Alan Nuttall Partnership making new start in Dudley
2018 was a tough year for The Alan Nuttall Partnership which has its biggest manufacturing operation in Dudley.
The decline in high street retail has hit the business’s store fitting operation, located in Hall Street, hard with 170 redundancies last summer on top of a previous round of job cuts following two years of losses for the partnership, which has its head office 45 miles away at Hinckley.
Matt Hornblower, who has worked for the business for 27 years and is now chief executive of store fitting and project solutions, said: “We areaware of recent challenges on our staff and we would like to continue to develop a positie culture.
“It was a tough few months from July when we announced the redundancies, but we are now ready for a new start.”
Mr Hornblower, who is from Aldridge, said that some very tough decisions had had to be made after he took up his post last summer
“We knew we had to change to start a new chapter for the Partnership,” he said.
Numbers employed at Dudley have now reduced to 220 with 55 at Hinckley where that site’s chief executive is Jamie Joyce who is in charge of the food service solutions.
The Dudley factory, originally built in 1914 for munitions production and later used to make the famous Bean cars and for CWS shelving manufacturing, houses the wood shop, press shop, laser cutting, welding and paint shop as well as warehousing.
It became part of Alan Nuttall in 1986 when the store fitting manufacturing division was established.
“We have more than seven acres at Hall Street and nearly a million sq ft of manufacturing and warehousing space,” said Mr Hornblower.
The shake up of the business has seen the closure of its refrigeration division at Dudley and the signage and display division at Hinckley.
“We couldn’t compete in that market. We were manufacturing refrigeration cases for customers, but rivals in the Far East, Turkey and Eastern Europe could make them fr cheaper and customers were going there instead
“We made the difficult decision to stop production and it was announced at the end of October that it would be closing at the end of 2018,” explained Mr Hornblower.
In Store Fitting 120 posts have gone in total after redundancies – a mixture of voluntary and compulsory – and natural wastage.
“Store fitting saw the biggest reduction across the businesswith resources outweighing sales in the turbulent retail environment,” he added.
Other changes have seen a new senior management team put in place at Dudley and improvements in communication with the workforce.
“We now want to move on and get everyone working together. It does involve changing the culture,” said Mr Hornblower.
“We are looking at improving how we plan and increasing efficiency here and in our supply chain, which is continually developing, engagaing more and more local businesses.
“We are also re-organising the site here at Dudley. The project solutions division, which project manages fitting out of shops and offices, is moving from a separate building into the main premises.
“There are synergies between the two divisions and we want to improve their efficiency and combine the strengths of the two.”
Mr Hornblower said that turnover for the store fitting division was now projected to be £20 million for 2019 with project solutions at £13m and the Hinckley operation £9m.
“We are also looking to enhance our sales team. The changing retail market means we are seeking new work in different market places, such as the student accommodation market, and looking to build relationships with new customers.”
Mr Hornblower said that the Dudley operation would also be stepping up its recruitment of apprentices and offering re-training to staff looking to improve their skills.
“Apprenticeships are going to play an important part in bringing in the new blood we will need in the business,” he explained.
There is also an important opportunity for the Hall Street site to team up with the Hinckley food service solutions team on its award-winning Flexserve Zone range of hot food display unit of stainless steel display units.
“There is huge potential for sales growth around the world and we have the space that the Hinckley site does not.
“We are looking at Dudley doing some of the manufacturing and pre-assembly and possibly providing warehouse facilities,” explained Mr Hornblower.
Alan Nuttall became an employee-owned partnership in 2015 and Mr Hornblower said that as part of the culture change it would be looking to revitalise that.
“57 per cent is owned by the partners and we are looking to re-engage people. As a partnership it gives a voice to all the different areas of the business and we hope to see more thoughts and ideas flow from that.”