Free guidance to help Staffordshire potters tackle decreasing margins and mounting Far Eastern competition has benefited one firm in the region.
Emma Bridgewater, based in Stoke-on-Trent, has been helped to improve its products and secure the future of its 150-strong workforce with guidance from the Ceramic Industry Forum.
The company has carved out a niche for producing colourful crockery and associated products since it was founded 20 years ago.
It has been working with CIF advisors Paula Wilson and Colin Copeland, to carry out an improvement programme designed for small and medium-sized enterprises in the ceramics sector.
The SME Masterclass, delivered by the CIF in association with the West Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service, usually costs £5,000.
It is currently being offered free of charge to companies which employ 250 or less employees and have an annual turnover of £33 million or less.
Paula Wilson, CIF advisor, said: "We worked with the Bridgewater team to secure the long-term future of the manufacturing operation, with the firm now recording significant improvements in productivity, capacity and the percentage of products that are right first time. It really is an impressive feat."
Bridgewater hasterhas successfully combined the traditional techniques and crafts of the pottery industry with a willingness to implement fully integrated state- of- the- art management information systems and best practice manufacturing models.
Trevor Dyer, managing director, said: "We work hard to manufacture innovative high-quality British products, with orders delivered on timeand that challenge is considerably more achievable with an organisation like the CIF on hand to help."