Timber firm John Brash invests £500,000 for future growth

A 100-year-old family firm has invested £500,000 in state-of-the art new machinery as it moves to grow revenues by £1 million on the back of a revival in the housebuilding sector and new building regulations.

John Brash & Co, of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, is the UK’s leading manufacturer of graded timber roofing battens, shingles and shakes, scaffold boards and commercial anti-slip decking.

Roofing battens, used to fix tiles to roofs, make up around half of the firm’s business and its distinctive red dyed JB Red battens are sold in builders’ and roofers’ merchants across the country.

But a new industry standard BS 5534 –  which JB Red already meets – is set to boost demand for Brash’s battens as it will mean only battens that make the grade will be allowed to be used in new build and re-roofing jobs.

In response, Brash has invested £500,000 in a new computerised scanning technology that automatically assesses every JB Red batten for potential weaknesses in the wood, like knots.

Many of the company’s rivals still rely on a visual inspection of every batten they make.

Finance director Neil Hill said: “No one else in the UK uses this kind of scanning technology.

“It will double the speed at which we are able to grade our battens and boost capacity by 10 – 15 per cent this year.

“Last year around half of the battens we sold were JB Red. We expect that to increase to 70 per cent.

“Factory-graded batten sales were up 15 per cent last year because of increased activity in the housing market and we expect a similar jump this year.

“Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance has been very supportive in helping fund our growth plans.”

The family firm was founded in 1905 in Hull and moved to Lincolnshire in the 1960s.

Current chairman Christian Brash is the great grandson of founder John and the £36 million turnover business currently employs 110 staff at its base at The Old Shipyard in Gainsborough.

It expects to boost revenues by £1 million during 2015.

The new investment was supported by a £7 million invoice discounting line from Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance, which can release up to 90 per cent of the value of issued invoices without having to wait up to 60 days to receive payment, helping smooth out cashflow and fund growth.

Damian Gunn, Client Manager, Mid Markets, Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance, said: “John Brash is a business with a great history and a great future ahead of it.

“The business is clearly benefitting from the revival in fortunes of the housing market, and the current management team is highly experienced and operationally strong with a proven track record.

“We look forward to working with them as they realise their expansion plans.”

John Brash is also a Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking customer. www.lloydsbankcommercialfinance.co.uk

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