Gas market fuels Loddon firm’s expansion

Luke Price

Luke Price - Credit: Archant

A second generation family firm has more than doubled its turnover in five years after becoming a market leader in the manufacture and supply of gas meter components.

And Continental Product Engineering, which employs more than 60 staff on Loddon Industrial Park, is confident of continuing the success story after securing a third patent covering components that help engineers fit domestic smart gas meters.

Sales director Luke Price, 41, who invented the product with procurement director Nick Hollyoak, said: 'The government has ruled that by 2020 every house must have a smart gas meter which will provide suppliers with real-time information on consumption and end the need for estimate bills.

'We are just at the beginning and the major roll-out will begin next year; with the patent secured we will have a lion's share of the market.'

Father-of-two Mr Price, of Church Lane, Bradwell, describes himself as a local boy made good having attended Cliff Park High School in Gorleston before joining the company as a sales executive 15 years ago.

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He was made a director in 2008 alongside Mr Hollyoak and John and Peter Burton, sons of the founder Harry Burton senior.

The firm initially focused on the LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) market when it was formed in 1993 but its major growth has come with the opening up of the natural gas market.

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Its success in the field was recently honoured with a national supplier award from British Gas.

Mr Price, who collected the award, said: 'This is a very proud moment for our business. To receive recognition of this magnitude from a blue chip company of the likes of British Gas is an outstanding achievement.

'Without all the hard work, effort and support from all of the staff over the last five years this would not have been possible.

'We now have long-term supply agreements directly and indirectly with all of the big six energy companies, directly with the four mainland UK gas networks and an increasing share of the Northern and Southern Irish gas market.'

He said the latest patent was their third since 2008.

'The first patented product has sold in excess of 2,000,000 and the second 500,000; the most recent item has already sold over 100,000,' he said.

'We also have three other products that are patent pending and hope to get full certification for these in 2014. We have seen the business grow from a £6.8m turnover in 2008/09 to expected sales of £12m this year, with forecast sales of £15m for financial year 2013/14.'

Mr Price predicts further expansion and expects to take on at least another four or five staff this year.

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