Fresh from its success of being named as one of The Fastest 50, an initiative run by law firm Ward Hadaway that recognises outstanding business achievement by companies across the north of England, this year North-East-based Roundel Manufacturing Ltd has plenty more to celebrate as it reaches its 50th anniversary.
Founded in South Shields in 1969, today Roundel engages in the design, manufacture, supply and installation of affordable and luxury fitted furniture through its Roundel Kitchens and Nixon Project Exclusive brands. The success and longevity of the company has been built upon a policy of providing its customers with a highly personal and professional service, supported by a workforce of 235 employees, together with the flexibility to respond quickly to changes in market trends. Its client base is currently made up of 95% housebuilders of all sizes, from local firms up to regional and national operators, and 5% retail.
Substantial investment in new products and the development of its manufacturing technology and techniques have enabled Roundel to remain at the forefront of the marketplace, thereby firmly establishing the company as a major force within the industry. This approach was evident last November when it introduced a state-of-the-art worktop production facility.
The company is also proactive when it comes to developing its product offering and last year saw Roundel launching Coe, its own super gloss and super matt range of furniture, and the introduction of its unique cabinet, Fusion.
“One of the milestones of last year was the launch of Fusion, our new kitchen cabinet,” explains Jim Bebbington, Managing Director. “This represents a mix of our previously two best-selling cabinet colours: stone grey and Kashmir (around 93% of Roundel’s total sales in cabinets). We were looking for a unique tone that would work well with all our 150 doors in the new Roundel collection. At the same time, we also took the opportunity to update the drawer box to the more fashionable colour, orion grey, as opposed to the lighter shade of grey we used previously. Again, we wanted the product to be more aesthetically pleasing and to more accurately reflect the trends of today’s marketplace.
“In terms of trends, there’s been a definite move towards matt finishes on door products, which we expect to be our fastest growing product in 2019. We’re also seeing a move towards grey and taupe colours, as well as all forms of earthy colours driven by the interior furnishing sectors.”
As a result of the growing demand for its products, Roundel recently underwent a restructuring process of its service teams across the UK. This is helping to ensure that the business continues to have the right infrastructure to keep supporting its customers to the best of its ability.
Despite the progression that Roundel is clearly making, Jim remains mindful of the potential challenges ahead. “We are of course concerned with current events relating to Brexit and indeed how this may impact on our business. To date we have seen no impact but will monitor continually. We have a 5% growth with our traditional customers and 30% growth with new clients.
“With regards to what sets us apart from our competitors, our ability to make bespoke product with very little effort is a major factor, as is our ability to quickly change either our products or services to satisfy our clients’ requirements. We genuinely deliver on our promises and can provide the best pound for pound product in the marketplace. We may be a national company, but we’re able to provide a strong local service driven by our regional service teams.
“We have experienced incredible growth over a relatively short period of time. The business doubled in size over a three-year period just a few years back, so we now need a little bit of time to take stock and understand what future investment and strategic steps need to be made to support our further growth plans.
“Right now, our senior managers are working on our stabilisation plans, aiming to ensure that the company remains a strong service provider with a solid infrastructure for future growth. In 2020, we aim to start our ambitious growth plans. At this point in time, our turnover is about £25m, but our overarching ambition is to reach the £50m mark over the course of the next seven years.
Roundel’s intention to extend the control it has over the manufacturing of doors is clearly identifiable from the targeted investment the company placed in 2018. Both of its brands – Roundel Kitchens and Nixons Kitchens – had their facilities upgraded with Airtech machines from Homag. This will enable Roundel to increase in-house door manufacturing to 85% of its total requirements. Currently the business has the capacity to produce around 65% of its doors, with the rest being outsourced, clearly it will not be long before the vast majority of the door production will take place in the company’s plants near Newcastle.
“On top of that investment, we also spent more than £1m on machinery that will increase our worktop manufacturing capacity by 500%,” adds Jim. “It is fully operational now and we are beginning to experience the benefits. We had originally scheduled to commission in August but were delayed due to a serious cyber attack, which saw our systems going down for nine days. Thankfully we still managed not to miss a single customer delivery. This is a tremendous testament to the ability and efforts of our staff. In fact, there was very little knowledge outside of Roundel that we had experienced such a challenge. True, it required a massive effort on our part to keep the business functioning, but it also reaffirmed our confidence in the structure of the company, as we came out the other side.”
Given its resilience as a company and the commitment it has to ongoing investment in its manufacturing facilities and new product development, Roundel is showing every indication that the further growth it is aiming for will come to fruition.