‘Invest to keep rivals at bay’

Advice: Tinsley Bridge Group managing director Mark Webber, with a pair of shear blades at the company's Sheffield factory.
Advice: Tinsley Bridge Group managing director Mark Webber, with a pair of shear blades at the company's Sheffield factory.
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A Sheffield businessman is urging local entrepreneurs to keep investing and looking for new export markets, if they want to avoid being overwhelmed by their competitors.

The call comes from Mark Webber, managing director of Tinsley Bridge Group, in the latest Entrepreneurship UK report, published by accountancy firm and business adviser Deloitte.

Tinsley Bridge comprises three companies specialising in high-end, large scale engineering, which employ 170 people in Sheffield and export 70 per cent of their products.

Mr Webber says: “Our company is over 25 years old and what I see is that the firms that are consistently successful have continued to invest in equipment and R&D throughout recessions, even if at times it requires a leap of faith.

“If you don’t keep developing new products then the competition will overtake you.

“Increasingly, we’re looking to expand our horizons away from Europe and USA into new markets in the Middle East, South America and South Africa.”

Deloitte’s report highlights the growing reliance of entrepreneurs on cash generated from their own business to fund expansion – something which Mr Webber also has experience of.

“We’re sitting on cash at the moment that we will use for investments in the coming year but at times it feels a lot more comfortable to keep the cash in reserve as a safety net. Investing always involves risks which is never easy.

“The Sheffield companies that are still around and solvent are the ones whose management teams have survived a couple of recessions and they are resilient, have strong cash management but are also prepared to take risks,” he adds.

Deloitte director in Yorkshire, Kate Powell, said: “Entrepreneurial businesses like the Tinsley Bridge Group are at the heart of Sheffield’s economy and have the potential to move to revitalise the economy.

“Increasing revenues from international markets will be a critical element in securing strong, sustainable growth but they will need support and encouragement from government to fulfil that potential.”