County Durham fireplace firm Katell grows after diversification

Katell specialises in manufacturing fireplaces and surrounds, producing around 500 every week and supplying to the likes of ASDA, Homebase, Tesco and national house builders

Martin Holmes, design director of wood experts Katell
Martin Holmes, design director of wood experts Katell

A County Durham fireplace firm that diversified into supplying wood products to a string of household retailers is set to report a 10% increase in turnover.

Katell specialises in manufacturing fireplaces and surrounds, producing around 500 every week and supplying to the likes of ASDA, Homebase, Tesco and national house builders, as well as social housing providers and local authorities throughout the UK.

The Newton Aycliffe firm, however, has also moved into making wardrobes, occasional furniture and furniture for the care home market - a new focus that now makes up about 30% of its business.

The company, which employs 72 people at its 46,000 square foot facility, is expecting turnover to top £6m by the end of March, a rise of 10%. It also plans to invest in new machinery in the coming months.

The development of the Katell’s product range has been assisted by design director Martin Holmes, who has been with the firm since its establishment in 2000.

“We have had a really good start to the year and we are working on a couple of exciting projects,” he said.

“One is sub-contract work for a shop fitting company that is renovating a first class lounge at Heathrow, while the other is for counters and benches for a new chain of Italian restaurants in Glasgow. We’ve also increased our workforce to 72, and have just taken on a new sales rep to cover the North-West and West Midlands.”

Owned by the Telford-based Charlton and Jenrick, which has a group turnover of about £13m, Katell says it has had to change its business to cope with the current economic climate. Having built up a number of new lines, it is now in a position to produce anything from a one-off bespoke piece of furniture to high-volume batches of components.

Holmes added: “Fireplaces and surrounds have been our mainstay from day one and we continue to mass produce them for councils as far Cornwall, South Wales and Yorkshire and up to Scotland, as well as for big name national retailers.

“Our in-house design team has over 20 years experience in the furniture and joinery industry. Our designers can create fully working prototypes from basic sketches or fully detailed piece part drawings using the latest 3D modelling software. We can supply realistic renderings so that you can look at a model before we commit to prototyping, and using software such as Alphacam and Solid Works final designs can be transferred straight to our CNC routers, not only saving time and money but ensuring 100% accuracy of the finished product.

“We have an extensive range of timber processing machines along with highly-trained operatives, meaning we can produce accurate components machined to a very high standard.

“Also, all components produced at Katell are hand-finished to ensure the best possible product is supplied to our customer.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer