Where there’s muck… City firm cleaning up millions sets sights on creating local jobs

Where there’s muck… City firm cleaning up millions sets sights on creating local jobs

25 July 2016

Picture caption: Cleaning dream team… Unita Maintain Ltd director Lee Summerscales, MD John Chidlaw and director Emma Chidlaw

It’s a dirty job, but John Chidlaw and his team are doing it - and are on target to turnover £6million in only their fourth year of trading.

Handsworth-based Unita Maintain Ltd claims to be one of Sheffield’s most rapidly growing companies, is pulling in six-figure contracts across the country and now employing 442 staff.

Former Sheffield nightclub doorman Chidlaw launched the facilities management company in 2012 with just £5,000 from the sale of his wife Emma’s coffee shop.

He left a successful career as a national accounts director for a major support service company - he and Emma hired 15 part time cleaners and pitched in themselves as work came in from a city toolmaker and a shopfitting company.

Turnover in their first year was £81,000 and had reached £326,693 by 2014. A year later, a  facilities management specialist Lee Summerscales came onboard as a third director and, Unita Maintain won a major cleaning contract at a supermarket chain abattoir in Scotland.

The company found its forte, began specialising in maintaining strict hygiene conditions in abattoirs and food production plants and hit a £2.2million turnover last year.

Thanks to recent industrial contract wins, next year’s accounts are due to show a minimum turnover of £6 million - a growth of 250 per cent in 12 months.

John Chidlaw, said: “Our turning point came last May when we won the Scottish abattoir contract. It was so big we didn’t expect to get it but they were impressed by our work and we now have three larger contracts with the supermarket chain.

“Our area of specialism is in taking on the dirtiest of jobs on sites where hygiene and decontamination is paramount.  One of our contracts is with the largest meat-packing house in Europe. Another is with the largest three-species abattoir in the UK, which requires 60 staff and is worth over £1 million per year.”

The company also provides buildings and grounds maintenance services and works nationwide.

It is now aiming to bring in Sheffield City Region clients and create hundreds of local jobs.

“Every £500,000 contracts we win creates up to 30 positions. We employ hundreds of people from the Scottish Highlands down to Plymouth; we very much want to do that on our own doorsteps,” said John, who grew up in Shiregreen.

“We aim to be the biggest facilities management company in Sheffield and a major local employer within the next few years and are currently recruiting a sales director to drive that ambition to reality.”

Have a business idea or wanting to set up your own company? You can get free and impartial advice to help you set up and grow your business here in Sheffield. Contact Business Sheffield on 0800 043 5522 to learn more.