Sheffield manufacturer opens two factories despite Covid pandemic

A Sheffield manufacturer has opened two factories, purchased a supplier and expanded production in the US during the pandemic.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 7:00 am

Gripple was last year building a new facility in Attercliffe for its automated machines department. But the division grew so fast that before the new place was ready it had to move into premises in Orgreave.

Now, as the £2.5m ‘Norfolk Bridge factory’ on Foley Street nears completion, another division has moved in and started trading.

Fast Trak is a new venture for the company, which is famous for making a simple device used to join wire.

The new Gripple factory in Attercliffe is set to be finished at the end of March.

The Gripple started out being used in fencing and then suspension - hanging things like pipes and ducts from ceilings. Fast Trak is a new approach which uses a system of short rails and push fit brackets for short drops of 1m or less.

When fully up and running in Foley Street it will employ 20 and bosses hope to grow turnover from £2m to £10m within five years.

Managing director Ed Stubbs said: “During the pandemic we’ve opened two factories in Sheffield. But we had to change the original purpose of the new factory.

“The trigger was we couldn’t wait for it be built. Gripple Automation was based in the Loadhog premises at Hawk Street and needed dedicated space, now it’s in Orgreave it’s developing very nicely.

Inside the Gripple Fast Trak factory on Foley Street.

“Fast Trak products have been developed in the last two years. But now it’s important to get the factory investment delivered to grow sales. Timing is essential this year.”

He insisted the Gripple was still a core part of the business.

“Adapting the Gripple has been and will continue to be a really important part of growing the business.”

Rail electrification and infrastructure were opportunities they were exploring, he added.

Impression of the new Gripple factory.

The company has also bought key supplier, PMS Diecasting in Hellaby and tripled the size of its factory in Chicago.

But despite the growth, Brexit had caused problems, Mr Stubbs said.

Since the EU/UK deal came into force in January they had found customs was ‘not fit for purpose’ and there was a huge administrative backlog.

He added: “The reality is a lot of the complexities are here to stay. They’re starting to ease up, but it is nowhere near where it was despite, the free trade agreement on goods.”

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We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.