The wheels are still turning at the UK’s only wheelbarrow maker

The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company has a proud manufacturing heritage of innovation and product development, more than doubling its capacity after securing a £450,000 funding package from Lloyds Bank in 2019. However, along with most businesses across the UK, their future plans were placed on hold following the outbreak of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown.

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Read time: 5 mins      Added: 07/05/2020

Read time: 5 mins      Added: Date: 07-05-2020

Through working with their Lloyds Bank relationship director again, they secured a capital repayment holiday, meaning they could protect staff, increase their immediate cash flow and plan to capitalise on their recent growth once more. Theirs is a success story in every sense as they embark on the future and reopen in May.

Capitalising on a growing demand in 2019

The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company is a family-owned business located on Phoenix Road. The Thacker family began making wheelbarrows in the 1940s from their garden shed under the name 'Thacker Barrows'. The business is now the only remaining wheelbarrow manufacturer in the UK, and supplies customers across the construction, agriculture and retail sectors.

Following an increase in orders from retail customers including Amazon, Homebase and Screwfix, with an increasing number of Brits taking up gardening, the business needed to expand capacity to maximise on the growing demand.

They used a £450,000 hire purchase facility from Lloyds Bank to invest in new powder painting machinery to spray paint its products without impacting day to day cash flow. This comes after Lloyds Bank announced it would be lending up to £2.5 billion to West Midlands businesses in 2019.

The new machinery helped to increase capacity by 133 per cent meaning the business could produce 3,500 wheelbarrows a day, compared with 1,500 previously, and forecasts an almost 20 per cent increase in turnover from £8.4 million to £10 million to follow.

Established in 1995 and based on Phoenix Road in Willenhall, The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company is the UK's only manufacturer of entire wheelbarrows. It makes the widest range of wheelbarrow products in the marketplace with different sizes, colours and specifications for the construction, agriculture and retail sectors.

This includes its new Barrow-in-a-Box product, a ready-to-assemble wheelbarrow that comes in a small, portable box, which was designed in response to demand from the retail sector.

"A continued focus on innovation and new product development has kept The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company at the forefront of the industry."

Phil Davies, relationship director, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking

Innovation and expansion

Jonathan Thacker, owner at The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company, said: "My grandfather Fred began making wheelbarrows in his garden shed in the 1940s. The business is now owned by myself and my brother, and we're getting more and more orders from right across the UK.

"In the last few years gardening has become an emerging trend with retailers reporting record plant sales. Thanks to this, we've been selling more and more of our wheelbarrows to the retail sector. Spring is always particularly busy with people spending the Easter and the May bank holidays tending to their gardens, and this year we wanted to ensure that we had the capacity to take on more orders.

"The hire purchase facility enabled us to invest in top of the range machinery that will continue to increase our efficiency without having a negative impact on our working capital."

Jonathan Thacker, owner at The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company

"The new machine uses around 40 per cent less energy than the previous one, so we're saving on electricity and gas while reducing our carbon footprint. Lloyds Bank has been by our side throughout the entire investment and has taken the time to understand what we want for our business."

Phil Davies, relationship director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "A continued focus on innovation and new product development has kept The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company at the forefront of the industry. Its expanded capacity will enable it to continue to succeed in a nation of avid gardeners.

"Helping local, family-run businesses to expand and maximise on demand is a big part of our commitment to helping Britain prosper. We look forward to continuing to work with The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company as the business continues to thrive."

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