12 October 2006

Gradus, the Macclesfield based leading contract interior finishes company, has officially unveiled its new site developments, to support its future growth plans and continue to develop and lead by example in the UK contract finishes marketplace.

Following five years in the planning, the new site offering will see a consolidation of the core Gradus Accessories operation from four to two sites. This will for the first time in the company’s history include a single, dedicated new factory unit housing the core accessories production, including extrusion to assembly, warehouse and quality control through to manufacturing offices, tool rooms, sales offices and logistics.

To support the substantial growth of the business, which since 1997 has seen the overall company’s turnover increase by 40 per cent and an upsurge in profits by 80 per cent, consolidation of the sites was imperative and is set to establish a substantial capacity increase for Gradus and dramatically improve the customer offering.

Gradus was established in 1966 and has witnessed its accessories business grow from a cottage industry into a mainstream interior finishing division. Its existing building stock, made up in the most part by listed Victorian buildings, has limited its ability to cope with demand. As a result, the plans have incorporated the investment of £2 million within a new site and a £0.25 million refurbishment plan of two existing facilities.

The new facility – named Springbank - measures 62,000 sq ft. The previous facilities had been working at full capacity, for as much as six months of the year, and the acquisition and improvements are set to make the Gradus Accessories’ operation far more flexible and drastically cutting capacity issues. It is hoped that this in turn will allow the service to take on more orders from customers, at any one time, and improve turn around.

Springbank is also set to boast a range of new technology and equipment that will also help to improve product quality and new product development capability. In particular, the business is set to embrace a new technology of environmentally friendly adhesives, which will remove the reliance on solvent-based adhesives used within the business.

Approximately ten years old, the new unit has been totally redesigned and renovated for Gradus’ individual requirements. Location was also key for the company, in that it was imperative that the acquisition was near to the previous sites to ensure that it did not lose the skill sector and current workforce within the local area.

Location was also important in terms of finding a site that could offer a 24-hour operation. Previous building stock has been located in residential areas, resulting in limited operation, and instead Springbank is located on a trading estate, on the periphery of the town close to major road networks.

The potential impact on the community and local environment made up a crucial part of the new plans and the vast majority of the planning was undertaken in close consultation with the local council. The catalyst for the move was to be able to convince Macclesfield Council that the listed properties would be developed and re-used in line with the council’s regeneration plans for the town.

This led to an extensive three-year development process, seeing Gradus work with local architects and planners to offer a suitable regeneration plan for the town that would also benefit the community. As a result, a number of the listed buildings have been sold to a property developer and are to be converted into a combination of mixed-use properties from apartments and independent offices through to tenure and affordable housing.

The improvements to the environment was also a key consideration as part of this consultation period and the fact that Gradus has been able to reduce the number of sites across the town will help reduce the inter site movement requirements and as a consequence, less air and noise pollution for the local community. The fact that the new site supports a 24-hour operation has also helped reduce the community disruption during day light hours.

The new site change over will be completed by early July and it is anticipated that the company’s investment will offer its customers immediate product and service improvements and ensure that Gradus continues to provide a high quality offering going forward.

For further information on Gradus’ products and services please log onto or telephone 01625 428922.

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