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Globalisation is the key to Hamlin’s growth

PUBLISHED: 06:30 19 October 2011

Mark Scharff, left, and Simon Pitkin at Hamlin.; Photo: Bill Smith

Mark Scharff, left, and Simon Pitkin at Hamlin.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

The globalisation of an electronic component manufacturer which closed its Diss factory two years ago has allowed it to grow during recession, according to its global finance director.

Hamlin Electronics – which closed its Sawmills Road factory in Diss in 2009 – now houses most of the senior management team and some engineering staff at the Broadland Business Park in Norwich.

The firm now manufactures in Mexico, China and Romania.

The firm – which works in many industries and counts some of the big car manufacturers including General Motors among its clients – will increase its turnover from £45m ($68m) in 2010 to £51m ($80m) this year, and by 2014 it expects to turnover £96m ($150), employing 40 people in Norwich and about 1,000 people worldwide.

Global finance director Mark Scharff said: “The company is evolving as the market evolves. There has been a huge geographical expansion of the business.”

“Throughout the recession of 2007/8/9 we saw many of our competitors fall by the wayside and retract.

“For us, there was a bit of luck in when we started to reposition the business.

“We were able to cut our overhead costs. We had closed the Diss facility and we hadn’t spent a lot of cash opening the Asia facility.

“We had a flying start. Many of our competitors were having to deal with closing places.That really helped.”

But he said that in the last few months competitors were starting to wake up again.

Simon Pitkin, global sales and marketing director, said that there were signs of the market weakening but the Hamlin products were still strong.

“The things we did a few years ago in making it fit and lean means that whatever happens we are very well positioned to cope with it.

“Although it might be challenging and difficult, we as a management team have experienced it before.

“It is unlikely to be as bad as we have experienced it before. Our business is more diversified.”

While they have closed the factory in Diss, Mr Scharff said that the new base in Norwich, where the firm has been for a year, suited the firm well.

“Because we had quite an established team we decided Norwich was good because we had good connections with the airport. We all really fly out of Norwich.”

He said: “One of the great things about being in the UK is that Hamlin is a global business and we are dealing with issues in the US and South America as well as China. We cover the working day in both China and Mexico.”

And at the Norwich offices they now concentrate on engineering.

Mr Scharff said: “Norwich is a hub of technical product development. We are co-ordiating global operations from here. We will grow Norwich as we grow other parts of the business.”

He added: “What we do is dictated by the needs of the customer. To grow you have to be investing in economies which are growing, such as South America and China.”

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