Blake UK designs, supplies and manufactures a wide range of aerials, CCTV systems, Wi-Fi signal boosting equipment and networking products for domestic and commercial use. Founded in 1971 as Blake Aerials, the company employs 24 people in its Sheffield headquarters and supplies its products throughout the UK.
Many of Blake’s products are manufactured at the company’s Rutland Road headquarters; but faced with increasing competition, notably from overseas manufacturers, the senior management team realised that a strategic review of its operations was required.
“Many businesses in our market rely upon products manufactured overseas; however, we’re proud of our long association with Sheffield and the fact that a big proportion of our ranges continues to be made in the city,” says Paul Blake, managing director. “We had come to the conclusion that some of the systems we used to manage the business were no longer fit for purpose. Inevitably, the more you delve into these issues, the more you realise the impact they are having on productivity.
Following a presentation at a business seminar, Paul approached Business Sheffield for support. He worked with Andy Sorsby, Business Advisor, to scrutinise the way the business operated. The Advisors are a team of experienced business people, experts in a wide range of sectors, who support Sheffield businesses to overcome hurdles and to thrive. Together, Paul and Andy identified the systems and processes that needed improvement, and developed an application for a Business Productivity Grant.
The Business Productivity Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and provides businesses with 50 percent grant funding up to a maximum of £12,499, with the other 50 percent being provided by the business. Eligible projects can include investment in new equipment or machinery and consultancy services to help businesses overcome barriers to growth. The scheme is delivered by Enterprising Barnsley, Business Sheffield, Business Doncaster and the Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO).
“I was delighted to find out that our application had been accepted,” says Paul, “and since securing the grant, we’ve also been able to implement software that allows all aspects of the business to be viewed holistically. Moving to paperless systems has helped us to reduce the amount of waste we generate, and as a direct result of the improved processes we’ve implemented we’ve seen demand for our products rise. We also expanded our workforce as a result, creating two new apprenticeships within the business.
“The impact of this project has exceeded all of our expectations. The new software means we can manage the team much more effectively, and diversify the product range, which has resulted in a significant increase in new orders.”
“The Business Productivity Programme was developed to help businesses across South Yorkshire overcome barriers to growth,” says Andy. “For Blake UK, this meant upgrading some equipment the company needed to improve its manufacturing processes, as well as replacing manual systems with digital ones, not only helping to reduce waste in the business, but also helping the company to identify and overcome the challenges it faced within its supply chains.
“The net result has been an increase in orders secured, and new jobs have been created, but perhaps most importantly of all, the technology embraced by the company has helped it to successfully prepare for future growth and cement its position as one of the UK’s leading operators within a highly competitive marketplace.”
Read this article to find out more about the Business Productivity Grant, including more case studies. To discuss an application with one of our Business Advisors, call our team on 0114 2245000 or email BusinessSheffield@sheffield.gov.uk