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In the frame

New technology helps boost capacity.

An investment in new technology and infrastructure lets Blackburn-based manufacturer SAS Chairframe grow.

Blackburn-based manufacturer SAS Chairframe has been making wooden sofa and chair frames for nearly 30 years.

Director Faisal Sidat feels now is the perfect time to invest in modern technology and new infrastructure to boost production levels.

A Barclays customer since 2008, Faisal (as a director of SAS Chairframe) approached his relationship manager, Sohail Iqbal, for funds to increase space by installing a mezzanine floor in one of the business’s three units, and to buy a CNC machine for greater production speed and accuracy.

The investment will allow Faisal to bring in the new business he knows is out there. “I have enquiries every week but at the moment I don’t have the physical capability and capacity in terms of manpower and machinery,” he says.

Boosting production

Faisal’s father Ahmed started the business in 1989. It now has 30 staff and a strong customer base that includes four large national corporate clients and 10 smaller wholesalers. Faisal says: “It’s good to get a customer base who supplies nationally, so you get more volume and consistent work on a regular basis.”

The business produces lots of different styles, from office furniture frames to traditional classics. “Lots of people are asking for Victorian wing-back chairs and Chesterfield styles. They seem to have come back in fashion again,” says Faisal.

At the moment, the business manufactures between 1,000 and 1,200 frames a week, but Faisal believes the new investment could allow him to increase production by up to 25%.

Also, because it delivers pinpoint accuracy, the CNC machine will help tap into markets where furniture is assembled at the point of delivery – sofas with detachable arms, for example. “For this to happen, you have to have accurate drill holes and positioning, and our new CNC machine will provide the accuracy do that. It will be a huge step forward for us,” explains Faisal.

Once the new mezzanine floor is finished, there will also be capacity for an extra four people on the production line. This will help increase production from 1,200 frames to 1,400 frames per week.

Fast and flexible

Faisal was impressed with the quick turnaround on his loan application. “I’d say it took 10 working days from start to finish. When I was in a position to go ahead, Mr Iqbal came out to see me and talk through the process.”

The loan was felt to be a far better option than potentially putting a strain on the business by using existing funds, especially as Faisal is hoping to pay it off well within the agreed time frame.

“It gave me security but also flexibility, in the sense that any time I feel I can pay off a substantial sum, that’s no problem,” says Faisal.

If everything goes to plan over the next 12 to 18 months, Faisal is thinking of investing in a second, upgraded CNC machine to grow the business further. He adds: “If that’s the case, I will possibly be speaking to Mr Iqbal again!”

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