Growth strategy is paying dividends for Lenwade-based Britannia Blinds

Ivan Smith at Britannia Blinds factory in Lenwade.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Ivan Smith at Britannia Blinds factory in Lenwade.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The owner of Lenwade-based Britannia Blinds said a two-pronged strategy to grow the firm through the opening of a new showroom in Norwich combined with a revamped online presence was helping the business win new work across the region and in London.

Ivan Smith founded the company after being made redundant 12 years ago - initially working out of his shed in Bawdeswell, near Dereham to get the business off the ground. Since then, and despite the collapse of the housebuilding market during the recession, the company, which employs 10 staff, is enjoying continued growth.

The firm manufactures blinds to order at its 1000sq ft site at Shepherds Business Park, Norwich Road.

This year it opened a new showroom on Cromer Road close to the city boundary with Hellesdon, and expanded its IT team as part of the continued development of its online presence.

Mr Smith, 37, said both moves reflected its strategy to position itself at the quality end of the market, which was helping to attract a diverse range of clients.

'We have recently taken on two more staff to get stuck into the IT side to do our website and social media,' he said. 'We've taken control of our website from a third party and had our own server put in.

'We are taking on work from all over the place. We've worked on homes in Hampstead and also some central London hotels. I was in Greenwich recently pricing up 280 fly screens for the university campus. We are now regularly quoting for large building projects across the region.

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'We have a partnership with a German firm who produce awnings and we recently picked up a contract with some Subway stores in Norwich to supply awnings to them.'

He said another growth area was 'plantation shutters' fuelled largely by Norfolk's second home owners, and the firm had struck up a partnership with a Chinese manufacturer to supply them.

And he said the approach had paid off, while the firm also had a family feel, with his father Patrick, brother Andrew, and partner Clare all now working in the business.

'We are a local company but we are pushing out regionally now. We do see ourselves in Cambridgeshire and North Suffolk,' he said. 'We are growing 30pc year on year and in the next 18 months I would expect to hit £500,000 turnover. We have still got the ethos that we re-invest whenever we can.'