How Rugby World Cup success is helping Lowestoft firm to stay ahead of the game
PUBLISHED: 10:02 28 September 2015 | UPDATED: 10:02 28 September 2015
With the Rugby World Cup in full swing, all eyes are on England as they aim for glory.
But behind the scenes, a historic Lowestoft firm hopes winning an exclusive contract to supply the rugby posts for the competition will help it to lead the field as a global business player.
Sports manufacturer Harrod UK landed the all-important contract a couple of years ago.
In that time its workforce has increased by 17 per cent - despite having to make efficiencies to save money - as high-profile projects open up export markets.
As the All Blacks and Springboks eye the Webb Ellis Cup, Harrod UK now wants to build a £500,000 research facility at its Pinbush Road Industrial Estate base - to build on its position as a global market leader and show a long-standing commitment its Suffolk home.
Kevin Utton, Harrod UK sales and marketing manager, said: “We are getting a major event every year at the moment. That helps to keep us as market leaders.
“The more we do major events, that gets exposure to other countries. It will help us grow the export business.
“Whenever you’ve got a large international tender, they’ll say: ‘Please provide us with a product specification and price, and a list of where it’s previously been used.’
“People want what they saw on the pitch or at the Olympics. However we’ve got to be growing so we’re not just a one-hit wonder. We know people trade up.”
With a portfolio that includes Champions League finals, the Olympics, major football tournaments and last year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Harrod UK has steadily become the go-to firm for sports goalposts and nets.
It has become a Lowestoft success story in the process, today employing 140 workers on its 120,000sq ft site.
But Mr Utton insisted: “We cannot rest on our laurels. We have to be investing for the future, driving forward for the next big major event.
“Research and development is a big area for us. We know that to stay in growth, we’ve got to keep moving forward. We’ve got to develop and progress.
At the moment has 12 people work in R&D but in separate parts of the site. The 9,000sq ft research centre on a currently unused field on its Pinbush Road site would bring them all under one roof.
“We are committed to this town and clearly with this amount of investment, we see a big future for us in Lowestoft,” Mr Utton added.
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