A specialist furniture business is preparing to move into new premises four times the size of its original base after a rapid increase in orders.
Top Brass has built up a multi-million pound turnover making furnishings for some of the UK’s biggest hotel chains, providing everything from blinds to beds to complete furnished rooms. As well as relocating, the business will also double its workforce to reflect the growth.
Director John Harrington, who is relocating to Hartlepool with his family from London where the business has a head office, said Top Brass had “outgrown” its premises on Longhill Industrial Estate and hopes the move will take it to a new level. The business will move into its new 30,000sq ft premises on Oaksway Industrial Estate in September, a former cake factory, which is undergoing extensive redevelopment to house not only manufacturing capabilities but a design studio and office space.
He said: “Or growth has been a real success story so far and has been aided by the decision to locate in Hartlepool where we find the myriad of skills and talents we need, but we are fully aware that if we stand still then we go backwards. We have some very talented people with us, and there is a need that we are constantly creative and inventive.
“Over the last or 15 years we have developed into commercial refurbishment, and 80 per cent of our work is for hotels and the commercial sector. We won our first major contract in 2012 with an international hotel chain, and it has grown from there.”
With backing from Hartlepool Borough Council and the Regional Growth Fund’s Let’s Grow initiative, John and the management team at Top Brass have invested heavily in both machinery and staff and have seen the order book flourish as a result. John added: “When we started off with just two of us, we relied on word of mouth to raise our profile. But then we won two £2m orders for beds with a big hotel chain, and that led to other contracts coming in from franchises.
“We can fit out refurbs or new build hotels from scratch. If you think about it the bed is the most important aspect for any hotel. You can have the facilities and the views and everything else that we all like in a hotel, but if someone has a poor night’s sleep because the bed isn’t right then they won’t go back. We pride ourselves on providing that quality, and everything else we do to furnish the rooms is of an equally high standard.
“”We have invested not just in our workforce, but in our machinery as well. We service a service industry, so everything has to be spot on. You can’t invest in staff without the right tools, and vice versa.”
In previous years Top Brass would outsource various components to create pieces of furniture, but now everything is done at the Hartlepool base and John added: “The hotel will have a concept for a design, we will look at it and advise how we can alter it to make it more cost-effective.
“We can then provide every single item, from the bed to the headboard to the bedside tables and other pieces. The client appreciates the fact we are effectively a one-stop shop who can provide everything they need, and we get a lot of repeat business from that.”
Top Brass operates with a team of designers and project managers, and everyone in the workforce can have an input when it comes to creating new products.
“We can turn our hand to anything really, even the most bizarre requests. We were asked to make some stools for a hotel in the south which were like spacehoppers, so that was a fun project to work on. We created a table and chair set for children centred around the Rubik’s Cube, and we’ve provided seating for schools shaped like a caterpillar for story-telling.
“We’ve also created a sofa-bed which pulls out into a bunk-bed, there are lots of examples of things like that. We have a lot of talented people in our team, and that is reflected in the products we produce.”