Production at Fuda-Hobart Rose Company began in Howard Street, but quickly moved to Hillheads, Whitley Bay, in 1967. The company then moved to West Chirton in 1989, where it now has 100,000sq ft. across four factories. It began exporting to China in 1983 following visits to the country by the company’s then sales director, Don Smithson. In 1994 a factory was opened in Tianjin, Northern China. However, a review of offshore manufacturing in 2011 has led to certain production lines being brought back home.
Backshoring from China should create 100 jobs in North Tyneside over three years. Currently Fuda produces 20% of its products in UK. The company’s medium term plan is to increase its total production range in the UK to 60% by 2020. The reshoring was supported by a successful application for a grant of £285,000 through the Government’s Let’s Grow Fund.
Rose said: “Against rising costs in China, and long lead times and a weaker pound, home production offers added flexibility.
“Made in the UK is back in vogue. With escalating freight costs and issues over quality making it is a lot more competitive to manufacture in this country. Our customers are also looking for shorter lead times between the placing and delivery of orders, something that would be impossible if we were getting them made in the Far East.”
He continued: “We needed additional support to set up production in just six months and received great assistance from MAS and consultants Oxford Holt Ltd, who are specialists in lean manufacturing and process improvement.
Business Growth Manager Cameron Ross added his support: “Consumer choice has moved away from mass produced imports with long lead times towards a wider choice of styles and fabric options on furniture and furnishings that they expect to be delivered quicker. These expectations can’t be met when relying on offshore manufacturing sources.
“Fuda-Hobart Rose quickly recognised that the only way to satisfy this demand was to manufacture more products in the North East [England], a major challenge but one it has achieved in less than six months.
“We worked with the management team on identifying the right equipment, suppliers and processes that would allow them to be able to make products to order in a short timescale. This has already led to £1m of new sales, with the promise of more to come.”