Bespoke furniture business smashes growth target

A Blackburn-based custom furniture manufacturer has recruited 12 new employees and plans to treble turnover after receiving support from Boost’s Bespoke programme.

Fuse Contract Furniture, which manufacturers bespoke furniture and fittings, is set to pass £3m turnover next year and has increased its staff to 40 thanks to the support.

The company was established in 2013 and began targeting the hotel and leisure industry in 2016, securing clients including Hoxton, Hilton Hotels, IHG and Luxury Lodge Estates.

Danny Ambler, now director at Fuse, identified operational weaknesses and issues with team structure which were stifling growth.

He was introduced to Boost’s Bespoke programme, a custom-built service designed to support ambitious businesses with the potential and determination to achieve significant sustainable business growth.

Danny said: “The support has really encouraged us to take a step back from the business and focus on strategy and growth. The planning tools provided are limitless in their scope to help us grow the business and the information on grant funding and links to helpful business contacts is fantastic.”

Fuse Furniture has already seen growth. Its current turnover is £2.2m and Danny is confident they will surpass the £3m target for 2020. The turnover target for the next five years is £7.5m while maintaining margins and net profit.

Danny was initially contracted on a three-month consultancy basis to review firm’s operational processes. After finding the business weaknesses he joined the firm as a director alongside founders Shelly Wilcock and Nigel Mallinson to implement his recommendations and help take the business forward.

As part of the growth plans, Danny was seeking grant funding to invest in new machinery and an end-to-end IT process. 

He was referred to the Boost Bespoke programme by Boost Business Relationship Manager Ian Cooke. Following a thorough review of Danny’s support requirements, Ian was also able to help Danny seek further avenues for finance support.

Boost is Lancashire's Business Growth Hub and is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 

The Boost Bespoke programme’s business coach Peter Dickson then worked with Danny to create a three-year vision for the company. Using business planning tools, they devised plans not just for the core business but also to assess the scope of opportunity through new business streams.

Peter said: “The objective behind the Boost Bespoke support is to help Danny develop a robust growth strategy, by reviewing Fuse Furniture’s critical processes, sales targets, cash position, recruitment and leadership.

“I helped Danny to implement this strategy and to include considerations for market expansion, product development and diversification.” 

Danny said: “The massive increase in turnover is due to more efficiency in processes and operations and an increase in sales. Being able to manage demand more effectively and further reduce the lead time during the manufacturing process is behind this increase.”

As part of the Boost Bespoke programme Danny also attended workshops, masterclasses, peer-to-peer sessions and gained access the Bespoke Programme Portal.

He added: “We’ve learnt new techniques and had our eyes opened a little to alternative ways of working. We are also learning new skills which we plan to integrate into the business in the very near future.

“We have restructured the business to allow leadership management to be more creative. There are three directors. We need to actually direct and work on the business not just in the business.

 “We also plan to recruit two apprentices and two graduates to support the computer aided design and manufacturing processes. We are also keen to explore virtual reality capabilities.”

The firm is also seeking to operate a ‘greener’ manufacturing process and is now receiving advice and support from Chamber Low Carbon to achieve this.

Danny added: “What Boost has done for us is allow us to lay a foundation for future growth. It's put in place strategies, business plans, ideas and staff training.

 “If anyone is sceptical about engaging a business coach, worrying they don’t have time or think they know enough already then I would definitely say take the plunge and give it a go. We have taken so much out of the programme and are continuing to do so.” 

Boost has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding