Home Business NewsBusiness Q&A: Stanhope-Seta, the £13m-turnover Surrey manufacturing firm

Q&A: Stanhope-Seta, the £13m-turnover Surrey manufacturing firm

by LLB Reporter
5th Jun 12 9:28 pm

Meet the Queens Award-winning manufacturer proving the capital can export its way back to prosperity

One of the joys of writing about London business is discovering extraordinary firms on your doorstep. I mean, who would have thought a world-class petroleum industry manufacturer would be based in Chertsey?

Stanhope-Seta makes quality-control instruments, centrifuges and vapour pressure testers for the petrochemical, pharmaceutical and plastics sectors. And unlike many of the “manufacturers” who get a factory in China to do the grunt work, Stanhope-Seta actually makes everything on site. With a £12.6m turnover and strong emphasis on export it is precisely the sort of firm the government has identified as the key to Britain’s economic recovery.

We caught up with Stanhope-Seta’s managing director Giles Verity to ask him what it’s like being a London manufacturer, and whether his firm is capable of dragging the UK out of the double-dip.

Giles, tell us about your firm

Stanhope-Seta is a family run business based in Chertsey, Surrey, and employs a dedicated team of 70 people who represent the very best of British engineering. The in-house R&D department design products to comply with existing industry specification requirements as well as develop new, innovative test equipment for evolving industry needs. The instruments are built on the premises by skilled engineers to fulfill customer orders worldwide.

What’s it like being manufacturer inside the M25?

London is a challenging area to locate a manufacturing business and there are definite pro’s and con’s. Cost is a key factor and a definite negative when considering a manufacturing plant in the area. Premises and cost of living are key factors in driving up the cost base. Access to business development grants is also far more challenging and within London and the South East in the past they have just not been available.

As an engineering company requiring skilled staff, we also struggle to find top quality people to join the team – although retention is not a problem. A number of factors contribute towards this, however. Two clear reasons are the low numbers of students studying engineering and a lack of relevant courses. It is not a situation that we see improving in the short term.

The pro’s to London are the proximity to major transport hubs such as Heathrow. Most of our business is export-based and we regularly welcome overseas visitors, so it is very convenient. London and the South East also have a good number of small specialised businesses, such as circuit board manufacture – these provide key components for Stanhope-Seta and the locality makes accessing these suppliers very easy.

The H2S analyser tests hydrogen sulfide content of fuel oil

Source: Stanhope-Seta

The H2S analyser tests hydrogen sulfide content of fuel oil

How is business currently? Are you feeling the double-dip?

The business has shown strong growth, and orders this year are again ahead on this time last year… an achievement in the current climate. There is no question that some markets have shown reduced business, however Asia’s continued growth and the company’s development of new market areas such as Russia and India, coupled with newly released state-of-the-art products, have ensured that the company continues to be successful. There is no question that events in Europe are of concern to all export businesses.

Does that means exports are up?

The Queens Award was given to Stanhope-Seta in April in recognition of outstanding success in growing its international business. Over the last three years Stanhope-Seta has delivered record financial performance, growing by more than 100 per cent. Export sales now represent 85 per cent of the company’s revenue and have consistently shown double digit growth.

Stanhope-Seta instruments can be found in every country in the world, growth countries such as China, India and Russia represent key markets for the business, as well as the Americas and Europe. In many countries strategic partners work closely with the UK business to develop the local market.

Impressive. Thanks Giles!

To read about other London manufacturers download our study of the 20 most exciting mid-sized manufacturers, produced in partnership with Lloyds TSB.

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