Oldham manufacturer opens new £3million production line

Date published: 04 February 2019

An Oldham-based manufacturer is celebrating the opening of a second production line, which it’s expected will boost its business for customers across the UK and Ireland.

Hill’s Panel Products (HPP) has opened the second line to increase its manufacturing of vinyl-wrapped doors.

The new £3million production line means HPP can increase the output of its goods from 30,000 units to 45,000 per month.

It’s expected, in the longer term, that figure could hit 50,000 per month.

Oldham West MP Jim McMahon and Cllr Sean Fielding, the Leader of Oldham Council, were invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony – as well as a number of other visitors from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Handelsbanken and the Financial Times.

HPP managing director Keith Wardrope said: “It’s great to see people of such high-calibre and enthusiasm as Jim McMahon and Sean Fielding taking time out of their busy schedules to visit HPP. 

“We all share a desire to support manufacturing and economic development, quality careers and skills.

“This new production line shows the continuing importance of the company’s agenda of moving forward through automation while also securing jobs for people.

“Automation can be seen as a double-edged sword, if it leads to job losses.

“However, HPP is using automation to secure jobs and to grow. Automation allows us to be competitive in the door manufacturing market by making production easier and more accurate.

“But because we are getting busier, we need to recruit more staff.

“Our employees are also hugely important to our success. We have a number of long-serving staff whose skills and experience cannot be beaten, and we are also attracting good young recruits across a range of roles.”

HPP makes its own-brand products, including Avanti doors, Glide sliding doors, and Aspect and Aspire kitchens and bedrooms.

It also supplies products by other UK and European brands.

It currently offers 6,000 products which cover full and processed MFC (melamine faced chipboard) sheet material, vinyl-wrapped furniture doors and associated furniture fittings.

The new line contains automated routing, cleaning, glue-spraying and vinyl-wrapping machinery supplied by Wemhoner and Sittex.

The Italian-made Sittex equipment is the first in the UK.

HPP’s expansion comes amid significant commercial growth. Sales grew 16 per cent last year, on top of 15 per cent previously. Door sales rose by 30 per cent and 11 new staff were trained for manufacturing roles.

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Company chairman Stephen Hill added: “We manufactured 20,000 doors per month 18 months ago. Then output rose to 30,000 in 2018. With this new production line, output will rise to 45,000 per month and we have the capacity to go higher to 50,000 or more.

“All our doors are manufactured to bespoke orders, with options on shapes, sizes, routing patterns, hinges and decors.

“The new line will manufacture doors across 40 styles and 70 colours, offering 2,800 possible combinations.

“Seventy or 80 per cent of our vinyl-wrapped doors will now be manufactured on the second production line while our first production line will focus on more-intricate orders.

“HPP is now one of the leading vinyl-wrapped doors and kitchen and bedroom component manufacturers in the UK. We now operate 24-hours-a-day, five days of the week at Oldham, which is a considerable expansion of operations and staff.”

HPP finance director Richard Mottram added: “Support from Handelsbanken has been very important to fund our new manufacturing and building projects. Since 2001, our turnover has grown from £5 million to £34 million, which is excellent growth.

“Opening this additional line is an important landmark for our continued expansion and development, for manufacturing and for our support to the UK furniture industry.

“A huge amount of planning, research and travel has gone into opening this second production line. Technology is the way forward for this industry, from customer ordering to manufacturing, and we have to keep at the cutting-edge.”

Handelsbanken Manchester branch manager Phil Basten added: “We’ve worked with HPP for over 10 years, supporting all aspects of the business including working capital, investment in property and asset finance. This is a great example of our work with owner-managed businesses.

“The way HPP has grown and diversified by harnessing investment is extraordinary.  Their professionalism, improved performance and profitability sends out a very strong message.

“They have excellent management and attention to detail. They are a brilliant company to be associated with and I have the highest regard for them.”