Lavender prepares for next generation to take the reins

FAMILY-RUN Lavender International is preparing to hand over the reins to the third generation as it reports a £3.5m turnover in its latest financial year, up almost 10 per cent year-on-year.

The training business, based in Penistone, South Yorkshire, said sales hit £3.5m this financial year, which is coming to a close, up from £3.2m the previous year and £2.5m the year before that.

Co-managing director Steve Lavender, whose father Jack set up the firm in 1976, said profits have increased too, allowing the firm to invest in more advanced equipment, but he didn’t disclose exact figures. The company, which trains people in what is known as non-destructive testing, has taken on four new members of staff in the last year, bringing the total headcount to 43.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Lavender International has trained people from countries including Brazil, Spain, Nigeria, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, China and India. Clients include aerospace companies, nuclear, oil and gas suppliers, and firms involved in service inspection and the leisure industry.

They send trainees to Penistone to be put through a series of lectures, practical sessions and examinations, which lead to industry-recognised qualifications.

They are taught how to check metal objects for flaws without destroying them. Just like tests used in medicine on the human body, non-destructive testing uses dyes, X-rays, magnetism and ultrasound to find faults in anything from gas pipes to aeroplane wings.

“We had been putting our head in the sand and not facing the issues. We had to look at the age of the directors and be realistic,” said 60-year-old Mr Lavender, whose son Paul also works for the firm. “Now we are working on the strategies to get us to a place where we can go through that succession and hand over a thriving business to Paul and his peers.”

Newly appointed executive manager, Jill Thompson, said: “The great thing about non-destructive testing is that it is recession-proof. It really does have a future for the next generation.”

Lavender International is being helped to develop by business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley.