November 24, 2020

EE Smith Contracts – MBO provides fresh lease of life

(L-R) Richard Hollingsworth, Dan Cashmore, Neil Bottrill and John Richardson

With over 120 years of operation under its belt it’s clear that EE Smith Contracts has moved with the times in order to achieve such longevity. What’s more, the fact that the company has almost doubled its turnover since a Management Buy-Out in 2016 proves there’s plenty more to come from the business too.

“The company was originally founded by Edward Elijah Smith in 1897 before ownership passed onto the Richardson family in the mid-20th Century, under whose stewardship the business flourished in the 1990s and into the Millennium by diversifying into the five-star hotel and super prime residential sectors,” explains Neil Bottrill, Managing Director. “Significant investment in cutting edge technology saw the company continuing to lead the market in providing high quality joinery and interiors to all sectors of the UK market. Two years ago I led a four man MBO team that successfully purchased the business from the previous owners, Nigel and Rodney Richardson.”

With EE Smith having now started a new chapter in its already illustrious history, the added impetus that has followed the MBO is apparent given the progress that has been made in the past two years. “We have all worked hard to build on the excellent infrastructure that was already in place by bringing our own vision to the business,” adds Mr Bottrill. “Following the MBO we felt it was vitally important that we remained true to the values that have always been at the heart of what EE Smith is about, particularly in terms of the quality of the final product and the customer service levels. This approach has allowed us to increase turnover to over £40m and we’re aiming to gradually build this up to between £45m and £55m a year. We’re striving to achieve this by targeting the high-end hotel, residential and commercial sectors.”

To support these growth plans and keep the momentum building, the new management team has been particularly proactive from an investment perspective. For example, in the past 12 months it has committed over £1m to double the spray shop capacity and enhance its polishing and finishing capabilities. “We now operate over 100,000 sq ft of facilities on the same site across five adjacent buildings,” adds Mr Bottrill. “We also have a door manufacturing facility, which not only feeds into the other parts of the business but can also provide doors for third parties too, giving us another string to our bow.”

In terms of notable projects that EE Smith has been involved in recently, it has completed over 1,000 bathrooms at King Cross for the developer, Argent LLP, and has been working on a major auditorium fit-out in The City for a large global bank. On the residential side, meanwhile, it is currently finishing off a £15m interior fit-out of a private residence in Regents Park. “This was a particularly involving project because it required all the various trades we offer, as it included the development of a swimming pool and entailed both mechanical and electrical works and interior fit out,” outlines Mr Bottrill. “These projects helped us win a Leicester Mercury Business Award in the Excellence in Manufacturing category. To achieve such an accolade is recognition of the skill base that we have within the business and our ability to tackle such high-end luxury projects.”

The impressive levels of expertise and know-how within EE Smith hasn’t come about by accident and can be traced to a long-term commitment to training and skills development that dates back decades. “For over 50 years the company has been a strong advocate of bringing in fresh blood and developing apprentices. This is an approach that continues to this day and we still take on six factory apprentices every year and the company are now committed to a similar scheme involving higher numbers for its site based operatives.

“By feeding the business from the bottom with young people and investing both time and money to develop their skills in-house, we help build the next generation that will take the company forward. We are extremely proud of the skills level we have within the company, which enables us to tackle extremely challenging and high quality projects. That this is not only being recognised commercially in terms of the projects that we’re able to tender for and win, but also in the form of awards, is fantastic. We’re very proud of our quality and the fact that it sets us apart from our competition.”

As it looks to make the most of its capabilities, EE Smith is currently seeing many ongoing opportunities within the hotel, commercial and super prime residential sectors. ‘’We certainly plan to continue to keep diversity in our order book to limit our exposure to any one sector and despite what is often reported in the national press we are confident that the high end fit out sector will continue to be resilient for the foreseeable future.‘’

As it looks to make the most of its strong position EE Smith is now striving to move to the next level in order to keep progressing. “We’re aiming to win ever larger projects both in the full fit out and joinery sector to make the most of the ongoing investment into our staff and production facilities ‘

The new management has given EE Smith a new lease of life, underpinned by a firm commitment to investment. The company is well set to continue adding to its already impressive heritage.