A UK manufacturing stellar success story.
With political leaders calling for a ‘John Lewis economy’, a recently-established Wiltshire furniture-maker has already proven the benefit of broad-based ownership and defied the economic gloom.
Set up by a group of eight Mark Wilkinson, Linley and Smallbone ex-employees, each one bringing with them different skills and talents to the business, McCarron & Co’s carefully selected team, have produced a 55% increase in turnover, year on year and are that rare manufacturing success story in a tough economic market. Turnover is currently at £3.8million in year 5. McCarron & Co’s business highlights:
– Consistent turnover: 55% margin year on year (from zero to 3.8m in five years with 5.3m forecast for 2016)
– Consistent growth: 1.5 times growth year on year
– This year’s Y/E financial accounts show the business making an 8% profit
– Ownership structure of 8 shareholders: all of whom invested their own money and work full time within a current team of 45 personnel
– Exceptional knowledge: 25 years of skills and experience at top level
– Vision: expanding furniture design from predominantly kitchens to whole house using current and innovative designs and materials
– Planning: Machinery and premises infrastructure in place for a 4 fold increase, all machinery owned by company
– Niche in the market: provide a fully integrated design service from initial discussion and design through to installation
– 4 years after launching the company they opened a showroom in Chelsea and 1.5 years later they are opening a second central London showroom
– Product development: constantly evolving new product enabling McCarron & Co to embrace and stay at forefront of new materials and innovation trends
“It’s always being said that there is no manufacturing left in this country. That traditional skills are dying out. That we can’t compete with imported goods from the emerging, low-wage economies.” says managing director Andy McCarron. Yet McCarron & Co who design, build and install high-quality furniture for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and studies has gone from zero to £3.8m, despite launching in the teeth of the recession in 2009.
Drawing on the skills of locally employed craftsmen, at a 36,000 square feet workshop in Wiltshire, the company made a modest profit in its fourth year and has bought and paid for all the equipment that it needs to meet an anticipated five-fold increase in production.
“We haven’t borrowed a penny and we don’t owe a penny.” says sales and marketing director Richard Jackson, one of the eight founder/shareholders of the Bromham-based furniture-maker McCarron & Co, all of whom invested their own money in the business and all of whom work full-time, getting their hands dirty in roles ranging from machinist to sales director.” Andy McCarron adds “We believe that the ownership structure of the company, which guarantees high levels of motivation, has been a significant factor in the success.”
What else is behind this recession-busting start to the company’s life? Richard says “Experience, hard work and a complete unwillingness to accept that there is anything that cannot be improved”. The company’s exceptional furniture is based on a combination of new technology, new thinking and old-fashioned craftsmanship. “Essentially, we’ve taken something we’ve all been doing for about 25 years, broken it down and started afresh.
The number of design and functional enhancements that we’ve made and the sheer quality of the end product have been critical to our success.” says Andy McCarron. Channels to market are increasing with outlets in London, Harrogate, Warwick, Perth and Jersey. The pride of the company however, remains the showroom and the factory in Bromham itself – which any client can visit to witness at first hand the craftsmanship and attention to detail with which their new furniture will be designed and built.
One of the things they see is a 5-axis CNC (computer numerically controlled) which has helped McCarron & Co to reduce manufacturing tolerances to fractions of a millimetre. With a number of these improvements aimed at making life easier for the installer, both McCarron and its clients are benefiting from a big reduction in the time that elapses between choosing and enjoying the finished kitchen. Andy says “For many manufacturers, installation is a major hassle that eats into their profit margins.”
Perhaps the most obvious sign that this young business is getting things right is the way that clients have come to McCarron & Co. So far the company has spent very little on marketing, adhering to that old adage that the best sales technique of all is to do a good job. “Almost all of our clients have come from recommendations” says Richard Jackson.