A family-owned Black Country glass supplier has hailed the dramatic fall in sterling for helping to turn its business around after one of the most difficult years in living memory.
NJ Bradford, which supplies glass across a number of industries, had put its workforce of 50 on a four-day week but has restored them to full-time hours following a sudden upturn in orders.
Neil Bradford, grandson of the founder of the family business who was brought in by his father Tim as a consultant, said the company was enjoying interest from potential new customers who have, until now, been buying their glass products from China or other countries offering cheap decorative and toughened glass products.
He said: “The first six months of my involvement with the company as a non-executive director with a remit to take the company into new market places and expand the traditional customer base were terrific, but we have been badly affected by the financial crisis across the world. But probably no worse than most other manufacturers.
“There are businesses out there who are still working and therefore now have a need for our products, having used up all their stock in hand.
“This has come at a time when the value of the pound has seriously declined and therefore made our products so much more competitively-priced in comparison to the foreign imports. We are receiving approaches from potential customers who are no longer feeling financial gain from buying imported goods.
“We are currently so much more competitive and we are making every effort to exploit the situation.”
NJ Bradford, which has traditionally served the decorative glass and toughened glass markets, now supplies the furniture industry, caravans and mobile homes, lighting projects (they manufactured the toughened glass for the lighting at the new St Pancras Station for Designplan Lighting of Sutton in Surrey) and the company is looking at the off-road automotive sector and the significant requirement for glass shelving in retail and showroom fit-outs.
Tim Bradford, Neil’s father and managing director of the firm, said the upturn in fortunes had come at a crucial time for the company.
He said: “We’ve undoubtedly had a difficult year but in the last month we have seen a definite pick up in the order book thanks to the movement of the pound and the fact that one or two of our customers have won some reasonable orders.
“This has certainly been the worst I’ve experienced it just in terms of how unusually sudden things turned in the second quarter of the year. However, we are certainly optimistic for next year on the back of recent weeks but cautiously as we are well aware that one swallow does not make a summer.”