Alex Croft of Crofts & Assinder
Crofts & Assinder, the historic premium handle and architectural fittings producer in Birmingham, is continuing to fly the flag for Midlands manufacturing overseas.
Crofts & Assinder is one of the UK’s leading designers, manufacturers and distributors of premium cabinet, upholstery and architectural fittings.
Founded in 1875 by brothers-in-law George Crofts and Frederick Assinder, the company moved to Lombard Street in 1901 and has been based there ever since.
It has a rich heritage in terms of manufacturing – having produced handles and fittings for The Ritz, The Waldorf Hotel, The Parliament House in Buenos Aires, The White House and rumour has it, even the Titanic.
But today, Crofts & Assinder finds itself in a whole new marketplace. One where overseas competition is greater than ever before and economic uncertainty continues to cloud over us.
However, having overcome countless recessions and challenges in the past, the company is continuing to innovate and is confident about the future.
CEO Alex Crofts said: “I joined the family business in 2009 having worked in the automotive and financial sectors for 10 years.
“The opportunity to widen my business knowledge was one of the key aspects that drew me towards the business. I’d previously held senior HR roles at the likes of Ford and American Express.
“Initially I spent the first year looking at the business to establish how different areas of the business were performing and to learn about the industry.
“Over the next five years I made a number of changes that have helped contribute to our success. However, at the foundation of this was having good people working for the company.”
One of the changes Alex made was exploring new export markets. At the outbreak of the Second World War, as in the First World War, the company was instructed to supply the war effort and avoided bomb damage.
After the war the company developed an extensive export market into North America with its reproduction Lombard brand range and also expanded its existing handle ranges into cabinet and kitchen hardware with the introduction of zinc diecastings.
This helped the company establish itself across the pond but there were still opportunities to grow further afield: “The company has always had an established export business throughout its trading history.
“I realised that with our strong heritage and previous experience of working abroad that further export opportunities across the globe were there to be explored and developed.
“The company now exports directly to over 20 countries and indirectly to over 30 countries. The export market currently represents 46% of our turnover.”
Rich with history and heritage, Crofts & Assinder’s bespoke product ranges have evolved over the last 141 years, which has allowed the business to expand its product offering to Japan, Australia, America, Canada, Mexico, Bulgaria, Italy, The Nordics and France.
More recently however, the Digbeth-based family business has further cemented its position in North America after securing a contract worth more than three quarters of a million pounds, which will see the company distribute more than 100 new cabinet hardware products to seven different territories.
This success, despite the economic uncertainties surrounding the company, has left Alex and his team on quite a high.
“In the past few months, we have seen major export growth for our business and we are always keen to expand into new markets,” Alex said.
“We now feel we’ve got our foot firmly in the door with North American customers and we are looking forward to expanding our product offering even further in that field.”
Looking forward, Alex is hoping the company’s continued export success will help drive further growth for the business.
“The business has seen growth in our sales and marketing activities as well as investment in our production and warehousing facilities,” he added.
“We have continually grown our design and product offering and this has resulted in turnover growth of 45% in the last three years.
“Our aspirations for the future are to significantly invest in to product design and modern day technology, in order to grow and strengthen the business, both on a domestic and international scale.”