Furniture manufacturers from across the region have been encouraged to focus on their expansion plans thanks to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP).

South Shields-based fitted furniture business Roundel Manufacturing and rustic solid wood specialists Funky Chunky Furniture have both used the support of MGP advisers to advance their business plans and aim for further growth.

Specialist MGP consultants helped Roundel to identify skills gaps in their current management structure, in turn supporting a more united team with a clear direction for the future.

Roundel Manufacturing Sales & Commercial Director Jim Bebbington said: “The more personal support from MGP advisers made us take the time out of our business to consider the future, then create a plan to deal with it. Their advice was so worthwhile. We now expect to continue our growth (17% projected for the next year) with development into new product sales.”

Currently relocating to larger premises, the timing of MGP support was just right for Funky Chunky Furniture. Through identifying areas to improve the business, MGP specialist consultant Graham Sleep suggested a new Material Requirement Planning system for the company to streamline their processes and gain more control over their operations.

Managing Director Kevin Johnston said: “We have now identified a suitable system and we are in the process of setting it up. It will significantly improve operations and help us grow quicker than anticipated”

“Our manufacturing efficiency will increase, we are investing in new machinery and are employing 2 new members of staff. We’ll have the opportunity to expand our furniture range and will also be exploring new markets domestically and internationally in the next 6 months. It’s very exciting times.”

The programme’s Senior Project Manager Simon Allen said “It’s fantastic to see the development our region’s manufacturing businesses thanks to this specialist pilot programme, and I’m looking forward to seeing how both Roundel and Funky Chunky grow in the coming months.”

Designed to help senior managers within manufacturing companies to assess and identify barriers to growth, the MGP pilot programme has worked intensively with 20 North East manufacturers to date on improving their business performance and increasing sales, with over 20 more currently going through the programme. The North East LEP is urging other companies to participate, based on the successes reported so far.

Colin Bell, Growth Hub project manager at the North East LEP said: “Offering four fully funded sessions with a dedicated and highly experienced business improvement specialist, the MGP pilot will run until July 2017 and aims to work with businesses across the North East LEP area.

“The programme forms part of our Strategic Economic Plan to foster growth within key sectors of the economy to create more and better jobs. I’d urge ambitious businesses to sign up now.”

If you are a manufacturing business looking to grow in Tyne & Wear, County Durham or Northumberland, find out more about how to take advantage of this fully funded support at