Craven eyes expansion into new markets

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Craven will be using its Knaresborough factory to manufacture racking and trolley products for the mortuary sector.

Knaresborough-based storage and handling manufacturer, Craven & Co, is set to expand into new markets during 2021 with the assistance of a new sales manager.

The company, which designs and manufactures shelving, racking, trolleys and wirework products, as well as OEM and bespoke solutions for catering and medical industry, is preparing to launch new products aimed at the mortuary industry early this year.

Craven plans to use its expertise in manufacturing storage and handling products for the medical sector to sidestep into this related niche industry.

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With 75-80% of its manufacturing output traditionally consisting of catering, hospitality and retail products, the Knaresborough-based company saw many of its orders drop off during the first national lockdown.

Director Wez Dance said: “We can’t see them returning to anything like the level they were for the foreseeable future. We realised early in the pandemic that it would be essential for us to break into new markets.

“We first looked into it as a potential market in 2015 as it isn’t a far cry from our medical range, which we have been producing for many years.

“But we found there were some subtle nuances in product design and use. With no real knowledge of the market and, as an SME, without the people and resources to progress it further, our plans were put on the back burner, particularly as demand for our catering, retail and medical products began to grow.”

A respite from the effects of the coronavirus restrictions came in April, when Craven was fast-tracked into the NHS supply chain to manufacture vital frontline medical equipment for the Nightingale hospitals including 12,500 IV stands and several miles of medical racking.

This initial work also led to further NHS work to support storage facilities for blood plasmas, vaccines and blood tests, keeping the company busy throughout the year.

All the while, Craven’s directors were reassessing the business and revisiting their previous plans to move into the mortuary industry. This time it believes it has found the right person to help the company.

Newly-appointed sales manager Trevor Russ will be leading the expansion into this niche market. With a 30-year background in the sector, Craven believes he possesses the insight and specialised knowledge that the manufacturer had been missing the first time around.

Russ began his sales career with the British Vacuum Company (BVC) before moving to medical equipment manufacturer Medezine. He later worked for auxiliary instrument manufacturer Medica and LEEC, a supplier of mortuary products, funeral supplies and laboratory equipment.

He said: “A lot of the racking and trolley products from Craven’s medical range can be adapted for use in mortuaries, schools of anatomy, pathology, research centres, funeral directors and crematoria. In addition, our manufacturing capabilities, in-house design team, and largely UK-based supply chain will allow us to offer complete packages and bespoke solutions.”

While Dance added: “We are delighted to welcome Trevor at such an exciting time in Craven & Co’s story. Over 60 years, we’ve become known for our high-quality British-made products, quick turnaround, competitive pricing and great customer service, not to mention our bespoke solutions. We’re hoping these elements, combined with Trevor’s knowledge and expertise, will help us break into a niche market.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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