Express & Star

Lord Whitby invests in chewing gum removal firm

A former city council leader has ploughed fresh investment into a Smethwick firm which manufactures machines capable of removing chewing gum.

Lord Whitby has ploughed a six-figure sum into Smethwick manufacturer Eco Removal Systems

Lord Whitby of Harborne, who as Mike Whitby was the leader of Birmingham City Council for eight years to 2012, has invested an undisclosed, six-figure sum into Eco Removal Systems in Oldbury Road.

He is also now the chairman of the firm which supplies its machines to venues such as Wembley Stadium and Chelsea and Liverpool football clubs and cities across Europe.

The firm has grown to employ 11 staff and is set to exceed the multi-million pound turnover mark in the near future, with Smethwick-made machines tackling the chewing gum menace across the globe

Sales manager Paul Johnston said: "This is an example of an independent British business tackling an environmental problem all over the world.

"Our machines can remove up to 5,000 pieces of gum over a eight hour period. Our system is totally portable and does not use any pressure or water- carried in a lightweight backpack giving the operator total freedom of movement to remove chewing gum without damaging any surface in seconds, including tarmac, carpets, mating, wood and natural stone-to name a few.

"Chewing gum is a major bugbear worldwide. Up to 65 per cent of children chew gum every day and there are up to eight million bacteria in a piece of gum on the pavement.

"In Oxford Street in London, for example, there have been reports that Westminster Council spends up to £1.5 million a year removing hundreds of thousands of pieces of chewing gum from their streets. We could save the council a significant amount of money whilst using an environmentally friendly machine.

"We have three different models of machines ranging from £1,995 to £2,995. 88 pef cent of our production is exported with 92 per cent of the machine contents are British sourced and we have recently won a major contract to supply a global brand which will means that our machines are in a further 27 countries.

Mr Jphnston said Eco Removal Systems machines were being used in a string of high profile locations across the world.

"We have got machines at Wembley Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Anfield, we have supplied Wimbledon for the tennis, we are also in shopping centres across the world, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the USA, South Africa, Chile, Saudi Arabia.

"We had two business partners here from Moscow last week purchasing our machines for shopping centres. We are now the market leader in a very niche market."

He added that attending cleaning trade shows and building up a supply chain through worldwide distributors and dealers had given Eco Removal Systems a major presence in the world market.

"We have built up a reputation as the best portable chewing gum removal manufacturer in the market. We are helping tackle a worldwide problem by

Lord Whitby, who is also non-executive chairman of support group Made in the Midlands, said: "Eco Removal Systems is a superb template for Made in the Midlands and its goals and for manufacturers throughout the UK to encourage a crucial part of the UK economy to take up the export challenge and dramatically increase our volume of global exports, which is so vital to the well-being of UK plc.

"I am excited about this opportunity because I believe in Britain's ability to manufacture and export globally."

He said the Smethwick firm was a 'prime example of an ambitious West Midlands manufacturer with quality products and vast export potential.'

"You could say I have been in a few sticky situations in my political career but this is the best clean-up operation I have ever been involved in," he joked.