The chairman of a kitchen manufacturer who invested £20m into preparing for Brexit, revealed plans for further investment and job creation as it prepares to open a six-figure training academy to students next month.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Sir Bob Murray CBE, chairman of Doncaster-based Omega Kitchens, said the new centre will train 500 of its customers in the first year.
The company, which was set up was set up by Sir Bob in 1996, sells mid to top end kitchens to shops and showrooms on the high street and the ‘contract market’: housebuilders. It makes ready-to-assemble - flatpack - and designed kitchens.
The new academy will offer courses in different areas including sales and design. “All our customers will have the opportunity to send people there,” said Sir Bob.
He added: “We have to support our retailers and this is one way of doing it.”
Prue Leith CBE recently visited the centre. The Great British Bake Off judge was a non executive director on Omega’s board when it was listed on the London Stock Exchange.
“She takes a really keen interest in the company and came back to see us,” Sir Bob said.
The opening of the centre follows the firm’s £20m investment last year, which included £7.5m in a new 75,000 sq ft warehouse and £12.5m in machinery.
The investment brings the total site to 400,000 sq ft. It has also increased its stockholding capacity by 43 per cent.
The expansion, which is the fourth phase of its growth plan, will increase production to 34,000 kitchens per annum and total production capacity to £125m worth of kitchens within two years.
After that, the company, which is increasing its number of staff from 360 to 500 this year, will embark on its fifth phase of expansion, which will increase production to 44,000 kitchens per annum.
Omega imports all its components from Europe, including hinges, drawers, wooden doors, from Italy, Austria and Germany.
“We need the new warehouse because the company’s going to grow into that size but it’s also enabled us to do something quite unique around Brexit,” Sir Bob said. “Because we now have the space, we’ve brought in 20 weeks worth of raw materials to safeguard our retailers and housebuilders against the effects of Brexit.”
He added: “I’m not losing any sleep over Brexit. It’s obviously something we could do without but it’s not the end of the world and I’m very confident about this country’s future. I’ve no political axe to grind.”
Sir Bob said many companies were underprepared when it comes to Brexit. “A lot of them have got their heads in the sand,” he said.
He added that Omega was tackling German kitchens ‘head on’.
“The German kitchen market is about 15 per cent of the UK market - worth about £100m,” he said.
“I see a great weakness in German kitchens coming into this country and we displace a lot of them. We make something a bit superior. It’s a little bit more money but it’s worth it.”
He added: “We’re very confident about the future. We’ve had blips but overall we’re a great believer in the kitchen market and particularly British manufacturers.”