Castleford curtain maker finds success in manufacturing

L/R: David Whiteley (MGP), James Boyd, Stephen Boyd (both Nationwide Curtain Makers) and Jeff Long (Business Doctor)

Castleford curtain maker finds success in manufacturing

A family-run curtain-making firm from Castleford is on course to reach the 30-staff mark after switching its focus from retailing to manufacturing.

Nationwide Curtain Makers, which two years ago employed just six people, used to make and sell curtains and blinds from just two shops.

Now, thanks to advice and support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), the company has changed its business model, moved into a new 5,500 sq ft manufacturing facility and now produces curtains that are used in the changing rooms of high-street stores and hotel bedrooms.

Wife and husband Nicola and Stephen Boyd, along with son James, have worked closely with external consultant Jeff Long to mastermind a huge change in fortunes.

Although the company has retained the retail arm of its business, 70% of its manufacturing output is now for commercial customers, including the likes of Marks & Spencer, the De Vere Hotels chain and even a nuclear power station.

Nicola said that tapping into MGP opened the family’s eyes to the possibilities and helped bring about a shift in mindset that enabled it to recognise that its real strength was in manufacturing.

Nicola said: “The family have been involved in the industry for over 20 years, but it’s only since we started working with MGP over the last year that we have seen a dramatic change in our business, doubling our head count last year to 15 and we’re on course to double it again this year to 30.”

“By thinking of ourselves as a manufacturer instead of a retailer, we have been able to develop the business and win commercial contracts, securing some high-profile projects in the process. 

“We have also been commissioned for more unusual projects, such as protective fabric jackets for boilers at a nuclear power station and 3D fabric installations for exhibitions in Paris and Russia.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of MGP because they helped to develop the management skills and infrastructure needed to deliver the necessary changes in our business.”

MGP Manufacturing Growth Manager David Whiteley said that the family-run business is a great example of a company recognising that it was too embroiled in its day-to-day operations to see the bigger picture.

He said: “The Boyd family have been very receptive to all the advice and support available through MGP and the industry’s network of specialist consultants, such as Jeff Long, who have transformed the business, making it a big success story – not least because it has created more than 20 jobs in the last two years.”

The Manufacturing Growth Programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), is promising to fill the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers to grow and improve.

This will be achieved through an 18-strong network of experienced manufacturing growth managers, access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £3,500.

Support can be used for leadership and management, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.