Leeds engineering firm aims for step change with £1.5m investment
Laser cutting and metal fabrication business Leeds Welding Company (LWC) Ltd is investing in future growth, with support from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Leeds City Council.
The support has enabled the company to post a year-end turnover of £11million this year and it now has its eyes set on becoming a £15million turnover business by 2020. LWC has invested over £1.5million in new machinery – fully automated fibre optic laser cutting machines, robotic welding equipment, cranes and brake presses – at its Hunslet manufacturing facility and in upskilling the company’s 110-strong workforce.
The investment, backed by a £100,000 grant accessed through the LEP’s Growth Service, will create 10 new jobs, in addition to five new apprentices taken on last September. The company is also working closely on projects with UTC Leeds, the city’s manufacturing and engineering school for 14-18 year olds, and has sponsored its ‘Student of the Year’ award.
“We’ve invested in people and systems as well as plant and machinery,” says managing director Richard Eaglen. “It’s not just a case of bringing in bigger and more efficient machines. The investment is part of a wider plan to overhaul the operation here and make a step change to become a different kind of business.”
A full-scale reorganisation of the 33,000 sq ft manufacturing plant at Westland Square is currently underway, guided by new production director Ian Verity. A former Sulzer Pumps employee, he has experience of setting up manufacturing operations around the world.
“We’ve made a big investment in upskilling the workforce to make sure they are qualified to recognised standards. We’ve brought in a product development engineer and put our engineering design and accounts teams through industry training programmes,” says Eaglen, adding that it’s important to help develop and bring through the next generation of engineers as well.
The LEP Growth Service supports businesses across Leeds City Region and is delivered in Leeds in partnership with Leeds City Council and Leeds Beckett University. The Growth Service is a one-stop shop connecting businesses with the right support to meet their business needs and growth ambitions.
The support on offer includes help from the LEP and its partners with common business issues, including business finance, innovation, skills and training, apprenticeships, exporting, business growth planning and resource efficiency.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of the LEP Investment Panel said:
“Manufacturing is a key sector of the Leeds economy, with some 1,800 firms and a combined workforce of around 26,000, making Leeds one of the largest manufacturing centres in the UK. The sector offers fantastic career opportunities for young people and it’s great to see LWC investing in its workforce, in apprenticeships and in building a strong relationship with the team at UTC Leeds to bring the next generation into the industry.”
In addition to supporting the next generation of skilled manufacturing workers, the support from the LEP and the council will also pave the way for the company to break into new markets, improving its productivity and profitability. As Eaglen explains, “The core business is in sub-contract manufacture for commercial vehicles, mechanical handling and construction sectors,” As well as opportunities to do more business in existing markets, he also sees untapped potential in oil, gas and rail industries.
“You need capacity – hence the investment in increasing our production capability – but you also need the credentials to become part of the supply chain to these industries. Ultimately the aim is to become a £10-£50 million turnover business, rather than a £2-£10 million business, and to do that we need to operate in a very different way.”
In addition to the core business, LWC manufactures innovative niche products, including passenger guidance systems for airlines. It recently developed a range of new products aimed at the agricultural sector – bail spikes, handler buckets and hydraulic brushes used for cleaning roads –which were launched last month at the Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show.
Roger Marsh, OBE, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said:
“Supporting innovative, growing businesses is at the heart of the LEP’s work to build a strong and successful economy, built on productive businesses and skilled employees. I’m delighted to see that Leeds Welding Company are investing for growth, creating jobs and upskilling their workforce.”
The LEP, working in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has received funding through Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.
The LEP business growth programme offers grants of between £10,000 and £250,000 to support capital investment in new equipment, machinery, premises fit out, refurbishment and expansion. Depending on the size of the company, grant support of between 10% and 20% of total eligible costs is available.
The Combined Authority works with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to help businesses in our region grow and become more productive and operates the Metro-branded network of bus stations, travel centres and public transport information for West Yorkshire.
Local Growth Fund: Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.
That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.
Further information: If you would like some further facts about the Fund, or the wider regeneration work going on across the country, please contact DCLG press office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance to request any additional information you might need.
There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England. The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects informed by detailed analysis of the most pressing economic needs in each of their areas, including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.
Northern Powerhouse: The Northern Powerhouse is a key aspect of this government’s approach to addressing the productivity gap in the north and ensuring a stronger, more sustainable economy for all parts of the UK.
The government has awarded £3.4bn in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse.
17 Enterprise Zones across the north have already attracted £1.3bn of private sector investments and helped attract nearly 9,000 jobs sinc.