Business Growth Programme supports Wakefield clothing specialist to sew up success
Wakefield-based Xamax not only prints and embroiders sports, leisure and workwear, but it is also the major player in the manufacture of rugby kits creating full strips for over 200 UK Rugby League Football teams.
Managing Director Graham Thompson recalls just how bruising the recession has been for everyone “The last three years have been tough but we soon realized now is the perfect time to improve our building and manufacturing infrastructure and strengthen our skilled workforce to enable Xamax to emerge from the recession running.”
In 2011, Xamax implemented an ambitious plan to invest a total of £1m over three years to purchase, refurbish and take on new staff then extend the new premises. The final stage of the plan required £100,000 to invest in new equipment and three new machinists. However, a £20,000 shortfall in funds meant the whole project was in jeopardy.
£20,000 BGP grant puts Xamax back on track
Graham discovered that the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership was able to support eligible small businesses with grant funding through their Business Growth Programme. Local business advisors from Wakefield Council worked together with Xamax to successfully apply for and secure a grant of almost £20,000.
This injection of LEP funding enabled Xamax to proceed with the first investment in a sophisticated flatbed laser cutting system, printer and press plus vital refurbishment of the factory interior. Proud to be the only company in the UK to use this highly efficient laser cutting system, Xamax has dramatically increased capacity and production speeds whilst the intelligent software has led to significant savings and a reduction in waste.
One of three new machinists trebles production
The second investment was in three highly skilled new employees who have already made a big impact on output. Ernest Lacho – the operator of the new laser cutter who has over 15 years’ experience as a machinist in Slovakia, Germany, Spain and France – is expected to treble rugby kit sales from £250,000 to £750,000 by 2015. Xamax also anticipates appointing another four new machinists in the next 12 months making the workforce 52-strong.
The Business Growth Programme grant has helped Xamax consolidate its position as the UK’s leading supplier of amateur Rugby League kits and look towards expanding into supplying teams in Europe in the future.
So would Graham recommend the BGP to other SME’s in the Leeds City Region with ambitious growth plans? “Without a doubt. Opportunities are out there that businesses are failing to capitalize on because they’re worried about cashflow. The Leeds City Region LEP team was superb to deal with. The decision-making was quick and the whole process was so simple.”