Showing sense in a downturn

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A SOUTH Yorkshire firm is bucking the downturn by appealing to the senses.

Barnsley-based Experia has increased its workforce by a third since the start of the year, invested in new equipment and is now targeting a 20 per cent increase in turnover.

The firm, which moved to bigger premises at Park Springs last year, designs, manufactures and installs equipment used to help children and adults with a range of conditions, including sensory loss, behavioural problems and dementia.

Products include bubble tubes, fibre optics, projectors and equipment for soft play areas, sensory gardens and multi-sensory pools; much of it controlled wirelessly by the user.

Customers are schools, nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, daycare centres – and even private homes.

Managing director Gareth Jones said: “People may have one sense impaired, but the others can balance that out.

“Seeing something as simple as someone who struggles to do much for themselves being able to change the colour of the bubble tube is uplifting and humbling at the same time.”

Experia’s biggest customers have been schools. While public sector spending cuts are affecting demand from that sector, others are growing and new customers are appearing.

The company recently received an order from a Derbyshire dental surgery for projectors that will shine relaxing images onto a ceiling and more families are buying portable equipment for use at home.

Exports are growing too and the company now has customers around the world in countries including Canada, USA, Australia, Denmark and Thailand.

Now, the company is planning to launch an app that will allow users to control its equipment using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

Experia has been assisted by business support agency Enterprising Barnsley, which has helped the firm to streamline its accounting and put the firm in touch with local suppliers.