Lowestoft business goes from a £300 investment to a multi-million pound operation
15:50 01 September 2014
A company which has marked 60 years in business has shown no signs of slowing down as it continues to make its name on the world stage.
Harrod UK started back in 1954 with a £300 investment to buy old fishing nets, repair them and sell them on as garden netting.
Six decades down the line, the Lowestoft-based company has become recognised as a market leader in the sports industry and boasts a multi-million pound turnover.
Founder Ron Harrod, now 83, started the business using skills traditionally associated with the town’s fishing industry.
A few years down the line, the company started to produce football nets, and later goal posts – and its sport division was born. Since then, it has gone on to supply goals and nets for the Euro 96 football tournament, Rugby World Cups, Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Olympics in London.
The company is now seen as an industry leader and is often heavily involved with the planning stages of sporting events, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
It is now run by Mr Harrod’s children, Chris and Stephanie, with support from sales and marketing director Les Saunders and manufacturing director David Bowling – and employs 125 people at its site in Pinbush Road on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate.
Ms Harrod said it was a fantastic achievement for “a little company from Lowestoft” to be competing on the world stage. She added: “Our motto is ‘whatever it takes’. It came from the staff but that is also my dad’s mentality. It is still true. It is the way we treat people and we like to think it is the way people treat us as well.”
The company’s main business is now manufacturing goalposts and is a pioneer in goalpost safety, with chief executive Chris Harrod representing the United Kingdom on the European Standards Committee for goalpost safety.
The company started in Horn Hill, producing its first wooden and steel goals in 1959. The business expanded further in 1963 with its first netting machine, steel cutting machine and a larger workforce. Additional factory space was created in 1976 and the company built its factory in Pinbush Road in 1979 with the office accommodation coming later. In 1980, Harrod achieved its first £1m annual turnover, acquired its first lorry and launched its now ceased Body Bild fitness equipment range.
Its sister company, Harrod Horticultural, was set up in 1998. It has been exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show for 11 years and this year won Best Chelsea Garden Product of the Year 2014.
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