Supply chain headache inspires Norfolk manufacturer’s £1m investment

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 August 2014

Seaglaze headquarters at Rackheath. (left) Richard Clayton and Alastair Clayton.

Seaglaze headquarters at Rackheath. (left) Richard Clayton and Alastair Clayton.

Andi Sapey

A Norfolk glass manufacturing business frustrated with slow suppliers is chartering a fresh route to growth by investing £1m into a new production plant.

Rackheath-based Seaglaze Group has taken the bold step after strengthening demand from the agricultural and construction sectors began to heap pressure on its supply chain.

The new factory – based in a 5,000sq ft unit close to its headquarters – will produce toughened glass for the marine industry, creating six jobs.

The announcement comes as small and medium-sized manufacturers reported another strong quarter of orders and output growth in the three months to July, according to the Confederation of British Industries’ SME Trends Survey.

Domestic orders and output both rose strongly, for the fourth consecutive quarter, and are expected to grow robustly again in the next three months.

Alastair Clayton, managing director of Seaglaze Group, said: “We were becoming frustrated by the delays and shortages we were experiencing when working with glass toughening plants.

“Our customers were having to wait for their orders because our suppliers were struggling to keep up with demand from the reignited construction and architectural sectors.

“When it became clear that the lack of a reliable supply chain was starting to jeopardise our production schedules we decided to take control of our own destiny. Specialist Toughened Glass has been formed to manage the glass toughening element of our operation.”

Targeting both yacht manufacturers and boatbuilders in the offshore sector, Seaglaze has forecasted turnover to grow to £3m in the next two years while expanding its workforce to 50 staff.

“Finding the right premises was a key part of the puzzle for completing the new plant,” said Mr Claydon, who was able to kick-start the project thanks to a grant from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).

“We were fortunate to secure a 5,000 sq ft unit adjacent to our purpose built factory; this is currently in the final stages of being re-fitted to provide us with a modern glass cutting and toughening facility. The plant includes state of the art equipment for cutting, drilling and edging float glass.”

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