The Ashington-based firm that says it brought the “onesie” to the world is preparing for further growth after taking advice from a specialist business coach.
Since it was established in 2008, The All-In-One-Company has exported suits of all shapes and sizes to more than 150 countries worldwide and managing director Kate Dawson is again gearing up for her team’s busiest time of the year.
Despite recording a turnover of over £1m last year, wide seasonal fluctuations in the company’s order book were hindering further expansion, and so Dawson turned to Mike Jobson of Oxford Innovation for advice. “With the onset of the colder weather and the run-up to Christmas we always experience a sharp increase in sales at this time of year,” Dawson said.
“With our annual plan so heavily-weighted towards the final quarter of the year it was becoming difficult to plan the company’s next stage of growth and take decisions around recruitment and premises.
“My initial thought was that we should look for ways to flatten our order book and spread production more evenly across the year but Mike showed me how real growth could be achieved by bringing our quieter months up to the level of the busier ones.”
Through its delivery of the £1.35m Business Northumberland High Growth Programme, Oxford Innovation provides coaching to high growth potential businesses and start-ups across the county. Programme manager Jobson said: “In some respects, Kate’s problem was a nice one to have but managing growth is not always straightforward and it can become counter-productive if it is not planned properly.”
Before starting work with Jobson, Dawson had been considering buying new premises and adding to the company’s 23-strong team.
However, the premises she found herself considering were expensive while skilled, experienced machinists were hard to find.
Jobson’s analysis, then, concluded the existing workforce could cope with producing 17,000 suits annually if production was spread more evenly throughout the year.
Working together, Dawson and Jobson developed a solution based on the team producing a new collection of 3,000 ready-made suits during what are typically quieter periods enabling fast turnaround of the remaining bespoke orders as they are received over the internet.
Now, instead of buying expensive new premises, Kate has extended her existing unit on Ashington’s North Seaton Industrial Estate and remains on the lookout for skilled machinists while also training apprentices for the future.
“I’m really happy with this solution,” she said. “The business was already successful but the next stage in its development had to be very carefully planned and managed.”
Jobson said: “This is a fantastic business and one our region can be very proud of. It’s been a great pleasure to work with Kate and her team and I look forward to seeing them employ more people and sell more products around the world for years to come.”