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New Drive to Help Wales’ Small and Medium-sized Manufacturers to Grow

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Lloyds Bank and industry improvement champions, the Wales Quality Centre, have teamed up for a new initiative designed to drive growth among the country’s army of small and medium-sized manufacturing firms.

Around 7% of Wales 214,000 businesses are involved in manufacturing, with the vast majority being small and medium-sized operations of under 50 workers.

L-R David Phillips, Owain Davies, David Williams 1But Wales Quality Centre says it believes a high proportion of these firms have the potential to grow into major operations if they have support to boost staff performance and product innovation.

The Centre and Lloyds Bank have now linked up to promote the newly-developed ‘Journey to Excellence’ which provides a ‘business tool’ that helps firms to identify expansion opportunities and unlock all of their resources to achieve new goals.

Over the next two years it hopes its partnership with Lloyds will help around 100 small and medium-sized manufacturers to step up into a bigger league by harnessing existing talent fully, improving management, enhancing their offer to the market and adding value for customers.

David Phillips, Chief Executive of Wales Quality Centre, said:

“Manufacturing has traditionally been at the heart of the Welsh economy and still accounts for a much bigger proportion of our employers than the UK average. However in recent years we’ve seen a fall-off in the prominence of manufacturing and we feel there is huge potential to reclaim some of its former strength by helping to grow many smaller firms who have big ideas and great energy but need better systems to move them forward.”

Among the first manufacturers to take up the challenge to adopt ‘Journey to Excellence’ is Amcanu, which employs 34 skilled workers at Burry Port in West Wales, designing and making bespoke metal enclosures for industrial equipment.

The 40-year old business is aiming for major expansion over the next five years, as it builds its presence in new sectors of the market, particularly sectors linked to digital technology.

Managing director Owain Davies explained:

“As a business we have big plans to grow and increase our capacity by fully utilising the skills of the people we have got now. Like any business we feel we have skills and talents in the workforce that have not been fully used and we are using Journey to Excellence to increase the engagement of the team here.”

He added that the Wales Quality Centre programme is enabling the company to ‘map out’ what needs to be done with its people and processes to drive forward their growth plans.

David Williams, Lloyds Bank’s Relationship Manager for Manufacturing in South Wales, said the bank is promoting the new model to its small and medium-sized manufacturing customers and supporting them with finance where appropriate.

He said:

“This is a fantastic programme which is good for the businesses concerned and for the Welsh economy. It will enable organisations to really focus on their future success in a sustained way through enhanced innovation, customer and employee satisfaction and improved efficiency and product reliability. We are very pleased to be involved in this important initiative.”