Firm helping take pressure off patients with specialist mattress

cutting edge: Head of operations Maxine Melia with Herida Healthcare operations director, John Kay. The group has invested in new manufacturing resource planning equipment.
cutting edge: Head of operations Maxine Melia with Herida Healthcare operations director, John Kay. The group has invested in new manufacturing resource planning equipment.
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A manufacturer of pressure relieving products used in the care industry and by the National Health Service is on course for £2m turnover just eighteen months after the business started trading.

Herida Healthcare, which was set up by entrepreneurs Neil Smith and John Kay, manufactures a range of specialised dynamic and static mattresses and cushions.

The mattresses are designed to relieve the pressure and friction which can cause pressure ulcers – bed sores – on patients who remain bed-bound for any length of time.

The business based at Copley Hill trading estate in Leeds has secured investment from a new support programme for start-ups. The AD:VENTURE programme, funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has provided grant support to the business.

Herida Healthcare has invested in new manufacturing resource planning equipment, including bar coding and scanning items, which allows it to fully trace materials and is a key requirement for suppliers to the NHS.

Specialised ‘bar tacking’ equipment, used to stitch handles on to the mattresses, has also been purchased. Herida has also installed a decontamination unit for cleaning mattress and cushion covers.

The grant funding, totalling £6,675, is part of a package of support the company has accessed through the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Service, designed to help small businesses tap into a broad range of business advice and support programmes. Herida Healthcare also received a £5,000 grant from the Digital Enterprise programme, together with support through the Manufacturing Growth Programme towards consultancy costs involved in achieving ISO standards.

Neil Smith, managing director of Herida Healthcare, said: “The support we’ve received has been fantastic and has really helped us move the business forward in a number of key areas.

“We expect to over exceed the turnover target and indeed profitability budgets that we originally set for this year and need to recruit new staff in a number of areas as a result.”

Two new production operatives are set to join the company following completion of the investment and up to seven new jobs, including roles in sales and business development, are set to be created over the next 12 months.

Herida Healthcare’s product range is also attracting interest from overseas.

The company recently shipped its first container to Melbourne.

John Kay, operations director at Herida, said: “We saw a great opportunity here and we are investing a lot of our own money, energy and time in developing what we think can be a really successful venture.

“But managing cash flow, at the same time as you’re investing in and growing the business is always a challenge, particularly when you are in the early stages. So, the grants and other support we’ve received has made a real difference.”

The AD:VENTURE programme is delivered by a host of partners including the LEP, the Prince’s Trust and Leeds Beckett University.

Roger Marsh OBE, chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, speaking on behalf of the AD:VENTURE programme, said SMEs and new business ventures are the “lifeblood of the Leeds City Region economy”.

Mr Marsh added that that’s “where new jobs and new prosperity comes from” and therefore it is “vital that we support them”.

A sense of adventure

The Leeds Beckett University Innovation Network is sponsored by AD:VENTURE.

The series of breakfast events covers a range of topics and the next Innovation Network event will look at the Northern Powerhouse and regional growth agenda. Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a body established by business and civic leaders across the North to drive the economy, will be speaking at the event.

The next Innovation Network event will be held tomorrow. For more information visit http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/eiahub/events/innovation-network-northern-powerhouse-and-regional-growth/