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Skelmanthorpe's Electroparts Ltd underlines manufacturing optimism

A COMPANY providing cabling, wiring and printed circuit boards for a host of industrial customers is reaping the rewards after an “horrific” three years during the recession.
Electroparts Ltd of Skelmanthorpe - MD Carol Swallow and sales manager Dominic Hancock

A COMPANY providing cabling, wiring and printed circuit boards for a host of industrial customers is reaping the rewards after an “horrific” three years during the recession.

Contract electronic manufacturer Electroparts Ltd, based at Skelmanthorpe, is enjoying a 20% increase in turnover over the last year and is heading towards annual sales of £1m after winning new orders – including ones for industrial lighting and electric vehicle development.

The firm, which was launched in 1990 as a partnership by Carol and Peter Swallow, has also increased its workforce from 14 to 22 and has recruited its first apprentice after investing to widen its capabilities.

Carol, who is managing director, said: “It is all about developing a strategy. We had an horrific time during the recession. For three years, we had 25% downtime and people had to take a 25% pay cut, but we kept all the staff. As we started to come out of recession in 2011, we started to develop our strategy.

“We have always handled printed circuit boards, but we embarked on a major investment drive to support the introduction of our new surface mount facility.

“This focused on increasing efficiency, improving space utilisation and implementing a staff development programme that sees every member of our 22-strong workforce trained in the internationally recognised IPC certification.”

She said: “It is an approach that has really paid off, with our surface mount capability helping us quadruple printed circuit board assembly turnover in just over a year.”

Carol said: “We have also put a lot of money into the sales side. We have increased sales to our existing customers, but by offering more services we were able to approach companies we would never have been able to approach before. That has also led to them buying our cabling and wiring as well.”

Electroparts Ltd is among firms to take advantage of help from the Manufacturing Advisory Service – which has reported improving prospects for growth among Yorkshire’s small and medium-sized manufacturers.

The latest quarterly MAS Barometer shows that 63% of companies questioned expect to increase sales over the next six months. Some 39% have reported a rise in turnover in recent months while 91% are looking to take on staff or maintain current numbers.

Appetite for investment has also seen an upturn, with 41% planning to boost spending on new technologies and 46% intending to invest in new machinery and premises – up by 2% on last quarter.

Asked about problem areas, more than half of firms quoted poor profit margins as the main issue, followed by an inability to meet lead times (31%) and access to working capital (22%).

Martin Coats, area director for MAS, said: “There appears to be a greater appetite from SMEs for investment in order to remain competitive and I think we are also seeing a desire to create jobs to meet expected demand.”

He said: “What we are seeing is that Yorkshire and Humber manufacturers have made massive strides forward in implementing best practice production techniques and can compete with the best in terms of quality, cost and delivery.

“They now need support on longer-term strategies and in developing new products and markets and this is being reflected in the assistance MAS is providing.”

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