Suffolk Blacksmith forges strong growth

Suffolk Blacksmith forges strong growth

Richard Fishenden has seen demand for his iron craft range, including lighting, curtain poles, kitchen racks, door handles and bracketry, grow by 30% over the last eighteen months as consumers look for the ‘traditional feel’ his creations provide.

He has run the business with his wife Juliet since 2006 and now employs five people.

Recently he has teamed up with British designers Anthony Dickens and Chris Eckersley to develop designer lighting and furniture.

The firm has tapped into support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) to help it lay the foundations for its long-term growth and to identify a number of new roles that will make it more efficient.

Richard explained: “Our passion for quality is our inspiration to produce useful products that will last a lifetime, but also add real character to the home.

“You can even see the individual hammer marks made by our blacksmiths, making every item unique.”

“We moved into an old country cottage that meant we had plenty of home décor projects to undertake so we decided to put my skills to the test and produce a range of traditional wrought ironwork.”

Made By The Forge secured a 30% increase in sales last year and is expecting to increase this figure further in 2018 after receiving expert advice from the Manufacturing Growth Programme.

Richard continued: “Word quickly spread and we started to supply other people and, now, over a decade on, our products are on sale in Heals in London and through our website.”

MGP growth manager Daren Booth worked with Richard and Juliet to provide a business review that focused on current challenges and opportunities, before identifying priority actions that will drive short, medium and long-term growth.

This work has provided a foundation for sustainability and employment creation, resulting in the allocation of two new job roles -  one blacksmith to further support production and an administrative assistant to drive client acquisition, general paperwork and customer service.

Juliet added: “When you are such a small team sometimes you can get so absorbed in the day-to-day business that you forget about what is next and how best to capitalise on the unique skills you have.”

“Working with MGP changed that. Through some great planning sessions, we were able to free ourselves up to look at how we should grow and this has already resulted in a collaboration with well-known designer Chris Eckersley to launch a combination chair as well as a cookery stand.

“Having someone from outside looking in has made us realise we should be leveraging the ‘exclusive’ status of Richard and the forge more if we are going to increase sales both at home and abroad.”

The Manufacturing Growth Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS) with the aim of providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers to grow and improve.

MGP’s Daren Booth commented: “Richard and Juliet complement each other’s skills and this has created a very successful brand with lots of opportunities to grow.

“Our role was to provide a clear strategy that gave them more time to focus on what they do best, as well as addressing a number of challenges, including attracting new staff and finding new routes to market.

“We are delighted to see the support is already making a difference and are looking forward to the launch of further new products in 2018 and a new focus on working with more architects and specifiers.”

Published: 12 December 2017

Article by Chris Middleton
Share Article