Bradbury Group – Opportunity Knocks
Even during a challenging year, Bradbury Group has been going from strength to strength.
2020 has been good for Bradbury Group. Even as the business has faced the challenges of the pandemic, it has remained focused on maintaining its deliverables to customers.
“We took the opportunity to look at our business in its entirety, restructuring various elements of it,” says Richard Butler, Bradbury Group’s Group Managing Director. “We also pushed forward with the implementation of a new computer system – SAP”
Bradbury Group is a leading provider of steel doors and physical security solutions.
“I think it’s important to say the Bradbury Group is exactly that, a group with great brands within that group,” Butler says. “We’ve Newton Security Doors, focused on the communal door sector, we’ve Liddle Doors which focuses on the utilities sector for water, gas, electric, wind farms and solar. We’ve then got the Martin Roberts brand, which is focused at architectural steel doors. So, if we were to walk through Canary Wharf there is not a building that does not have a Martin Roberts door in it. Then of course we have the heart of the business, Bradbury Security Doors, which we sell through our trade sales partners, a network of partners who sell and install right across the country.”
When we spoke with the company before it was optimistic about its future, and while the last year hasn’t been the one anyone would have wished for, Bradbury has managed to survive, and even thrive through the crisis.
“I think our biggest achievement has been developing our business with existing customers and our growing new customer base in a very challenging business environment,” Butler tells us. “We’ve had to review how we do business for the safety of our employees and customers. We took the right decision to close on the 25th of March last year at the start of the pandemic and remained shut until the 11th of May.”
Bradbury maintained a core nucleus of people working from home and that allowed it to maintain customer contact. As semi-normality has returned the company has followed the stringent guidelines set out by the government to work in this new era. Even today, some of Bradbury’s staff are working remotely off-site.
“We’re seeing an emergence of people coming back into the office but we’re creating a platform of flexibility,” Butler says. “Certainly, our office and operational staff can be based anywhere. It’s a bit more difficult with the production team, but we have ensured their safety is paramount.”
Part of what has made that safety possible is the extensive £12 million investment Bradbury Group has made into its facilities over the last three years. These investments are to ensure Bradbury can support both market and customer growth.
“We’re clearly seeing that we’re not post-Covid yet, but as we’re coming out of the pandemic the markets are rebounding strongly. We will continue to invest as we move forward,” explains Butler. “It’s laid out in, our strategic plan that takes us forward for the next 5 years, our strategy that looks at how we will develop all facets of the business; from new products and markets, whether domestic or export. It’s a sound platform to manage and run the business.”
Moving with the Times
One of the biggest changes Bradbury Group has made during the pandemic is moving its subsidiary, Newton Security Doors, from its traditional home in Irvine, Scotland, and relocating it to Bradbury’s HQ in Scunthorpe.
“The plan was always at some point to do that, but we accelerated that because as a senior team, as we continued to work through the lockdown period, we had the time and space to deliver it seamlessly,” Butler tells us. “As a Group, we now have all of our manufacturing under one roof, bringing great synergies from purchasing to logistics and manpower.”
Newton Security Doors specialises in communal entrance doors made from aluminium.
“We’ve been able to rationalise our supplier base. It was two independent businesses in separate locations, but now we’ve been able to use the best of the Bradbury supply chain and the Newton supply chain to find synergy,” explains Butler. “The same is true of freight and transportation. We ship far more product from the Bradbury portfolio and have been able to use that synergy with our freight partners for Newton.”
At the same time as Newton is being brought into the fold of Bradbury’s main production facility, the Group has also continued to invest in its very advanced linear production facility.
“An order goes from our customer and sales portal, automatically then into our SAP manufacturing system, then through to automated design and tooling system, into our automated machining centre and then flowing through a semi-automated production line to the finished product,” Butler says. “I think that is highly important because the investment the business has made over the last three years hasn’t just been about then but about setting us up for future capacity for years to come.”
Of course, as well as having the latest equipment, Bradbury Group also needs the right people, and with Newton Security Doors coming home to Scunthorpe, the company has been engaged in a recruitment drive.
“We’ve been looking at a whole array of operators and finishers. We’ve gone into Scunthorpe and the wider area being very specific in what we’re looking for,” Butler tells us. “The great news is we’ve found a core team, that in six months have mastered the art of the process and are now producing more product than were produced at our old site with fewer team members. It’s a fantastic achievement by them and their production manager who came down with us from Scotland. If you have a forward plan, a forward vision, then you can literally do anything. It’s all about mindset.”
Talking with Butler it’s clear he’s optimistic about Bradbury’s future.
“We’ve got an amazing team here at Bradbury, they’ve been tremendous through this COVID-19 period. The order book remains strong and we are actively engaged as a sales organisation out there seeking new opportunities through existing customers and finding new customers we’ve never dealt with before,” he says. “As a business, we have had limited exposure to the export market but we see a great opportunity there, particularly in countries where the Made in Britain brand has real strength, such as parts of Africa, the Middle East and into Asia. Through the latter part of 2020 and early this year we have been very successful in securing and delivering prestigious projects in Qatar, including a recent large export order for an as-yet-unannounced project.”
Beyond these exciting projects, Butler already has longer-term plans in place.
“We’re now focused on the future and building further the brands within Bradbury Group.