Although 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the Hollingsworth Group, it is testament to the north Wales-based company’s reputation that it has simply been too busy to celebrate reaching such a notable milestone. Instead it has continued to concentrate on delivering a high-quality service to its customers across the three divisions within the business.
“Myself and my brother Shaun started the company as a small civils firm in 1988,” explains Paul Hollingsworth, Director. “From there we gradually developed the business, becoming incorporated in 2000, at which point we moved into purpose-built premises. This allowed us to win ever larger contracts and evolve from operating as a sub-contractor into a fully-fledged main contractor. This enabled us to significantly increase our turnover, profitability and the size of our workforce.
“In 2009 we formed our construction arm, Hollingsworth Ellery, after appointing Steve Ellery to run the division for us. Steve had the ability to bring in key staff into the business whom had the knowledge and experience in delivering Key projects for our expanding blue – chip client list. In 2013 Dave Fewtrell joined us from Kier as our Key account manager to reinforce project support.
During this time, we moved into constructing and letting commercial property. Following the expansion of the business, we rebranded as Hollingsworth Group to better reflect the fact that there were three separate elements to the organization: civils, construction and property. The re brand gave us greater customer awareness as well raising our business profile. We now have 65 employees on the books across the group.”
Achieving three decades of growth, overcoming several market downturns in the process, underlines the high standards that the Hollingsworth Group has consistently been able to provide for its clients, an achievement that Paul Hollingsworth attributes primarily to the quality of its workforce. “The key to our development has been our success in retaining staff, many of which have been with us for over ten years, while others have been here for 20-plus years.
“We’ve always strived to promote from within and three of years ago we took the decision to restructure the company so that Shaun and myself could take on more of a satellite role, rather than being directly involved day-to-day. As part of this strategy we promoted Haydn Hughes, who started with us 20 years ago has progressed to the role of contracts director. He now helps to run our civils arm with our excellent existing staff and the assistance of the extra staff we Meticulously recruited. A commercial manager, Buyer, and a health & safety manager are now all part of our fantastic team
This faith in its staff and its willingness to reward them for their hard work has not only led to a strong strand of continuity within the Hollingsworth Group, it has also brought significant benefits when building relationships with its client base.
“As we work with the same select clients so often, we get to know their requirements and they get to know our team, because we have such a low rate of staff turnover,” says Paul. “We are awarded a significant amount of repeat business from our top six or seven customers and by consistently delivering our promises we’ve grown in tandem with them, seeing our profits and turnover expand as a result.
“We have a firm belief in looking after the client, so we endeavor to give them what they want, delivering projects that are delivered safely, on-time and to budget. In the process we become an integral part of their operation.”
Another advantage associated with the Hollingsworth Group’s emphasis on developing its people to their full potential is that it helps combat the skills shortage issue that has been affecting so many industries. “We’re often presented with opportunities to grow the business and take on more work. However, unless we have the right people and the capacity in place, we won’t risk compromising our reputation by over-stretching ourselves.
“While recruitment is currently difficult due to the lack of skills available in the marketplace, we do have an apprenticeship scheme in place and have brought through a number of staff down the years. Obviously not everyone works out, but I would say around 70 per cent have been successful.
In terms of its client base, the fact that it includes such Blue-Chip names as Hanson uk, Airbus, Jaguar Landrover again underlines the level that the Hollingsworth Group is operating at. “North-east Wales is a good place to be because there’s a lot of industry in the local area with the likes of Airbus and Hanson UK being just a mile away, while we’re only 35 minutes from Liverpool and an hour from Manchester. That said, due to our close relationships with our client base we’re also prepared to go further afield when necessary.
“We have delivered projects in Scotland and Derbyshire for Müller Foods and as far as Basildon for Culina Logistics. In fact, we’re currently exploring the possibility of opening an office in Oxfordshire because a number of our clients have facilities in the area. We’re currently weighing up the pros and cons of this, but it could potentially open up more doors for us.”
Any additional opportunities that come the Hollingsworth Group’s way would help it further cement what has already been a strong start to its financial year, which began on 1 May. “We’ve secured around £7m of work in the first month so we’ve made quite a promising start. In comparison, last year we turned over around £20m and were named in the `Sunday Times’ league table of Britain’s fastest growing companies by profit, having made a large profit. This was quite an achievement and we’d love to repeat it.”
One relatively new area of potential growth for the business is high-end residential, as the company looks to build on the success that its Estates arm has seen within the commercial sector, having developed two industrial estates comprising of around 120,000 sq ft of high quality industrial units near its offices in Flintshire, all of which are now fully let.
“We’re branching out into high-end residential property having purchased a front-line plot of land in affluent Abersoch in north Wales, which we’re going to develop into luxury home in the next couple of years,” highlights Paul. “In terms of the commercial side, we’ve come to the last of the available land for industrial unit development but we’re looking to secure more going forward. It will be slow but steady progress over the next few years.
Given its level of experience and sound financial footing, the Hollingsworth Group looks well placed to build on its 30 years of progress by further broadening its horizons. “Looking forward, I hope to see the construction arm’s profit and turnover increase as we work towards getting the overall group turnover up to between £25m and £30m within the next three to five years,” concludes Paul. “As for the 30th anniversary, we haven’t really discussed it. We tend to operate in quite a low-key manner. That said, we are looking to hold a staff bash to reward them for their efforts. The problem is that we’re so busy it’s sometimes hard to find the time!”
And it is hard work ethic, coupled with its commitment to customer service, that might provide the perfect indication as to why the Hollingsworth Group has so successfully chalked up 30 years of operation.