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Breweries help family business clean up

PUBLISHED: 13:07 02 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:32 06 July 2010

A booming trade in micro-breweries is helping a Norfolk cleaning firm expand its horizons into European growth.

Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, based at Acle, is hoping to target breweries in Holland and Germany after developing a cask cleaner for the growing number of small and micro breweries in the UK.

A booming trade in micro-breweries is helping a Norfolk cleaning firm expand its horizons into European growth.

Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, based at Acle, is hoping to target breweries in Holland and Germany after developing a cask cleaner for the growing number of small and micro breweries in the UK.

The product was created after the long established firm was approached by Besthorpe-based Wolf Brewery.

Philip Crane, Hugh Crane's founder and managing director, said: “There are 31 micro-breweries in Norfolk and the number is growing.

“We have sold the cask cleaners all over the UK and Ireland and Wolf was instrumental in helping us develop it.”

At the moment the firm exports about 2-3pc of what it sells - which is everything from basic cleaning products to £750,000 turn key projects - but it hopes this will now grow.

In the past year the firm has also launched another new product, a machine for cleaning inside chicken houses, which has helped hugely decrease the time it takes for staff to clean sheds.

The firm has also re-launched its hire division, which has seen a boost in trade as the recession has meant people have shied away from making big purchases, said Mr Crane.

“As capital has become tighter, people are looking to hire rather than purchase,” he said. “We're flexible in that respect and it is something we can build on.

“We want to expand what we are doing but on a bigger scale. Our turnover has risen in recessionary times, something not everyone is doing.

“We keep pushing, having innovation and development

The firm was set up by Mr Crane as a division of his father's farming business nearly 30 years ago, selling pressure cleaners and industrial vacuum cleaners.

It launched its own brand, which it manufactures from Acle, called Commando in 1985, but the firm also manufactures many bespoke products for other firms including airlines.

It has helped create a range of domestic bin cleaners and is now looking at commercial bin cleaning machines.

About 20pc of its turnover is products it has manufactured from Acle.

Its machines clean the baskets fruit and vegetables are put in out in the field and then used to display produce in supermarkets and the firm counts Birds Eye, Colmans, Bernard Matthews and Tulip amongst its customers.

It now has a turnover of just over £5m, having grown year on year, 65 staff and an office in Peterborough.

It also has a subsidiary, a distribution and wholesale business based in the Lake District, which turns over £2.5m.


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