A high-end County Durham flooring firm is bringing in robotic technology to underpin its growth plans with the help of a six-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.
Woodland Floors is the UK’s biggest manufacturer of high-quality wood flooring, producing around 80,000 square metres of engineered oak flooring every year for retailers, installers and property design firms right across the UK.
The Shildon-based firm’s products have been used in a wide range of office projects for household name organisations including Netflix, the London School of Economics and the BBC, as well as in high specification domestic and hospitality sector settings.
The Woodland Floors management team has now worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in the £100,000 investment, which will support its purchase of a range of new equipment, including a robotic filling machine which scans the raw wood for knotholes and then fills them in.
The investment will also contribute to the company’s ongoing new product development work, as well as supporting the recent opening of a new pre-finishing facility near its main premises that has enabled the Woodland team to bring this colouring work in-house.
Woodland Floors was set up in 2019 by directors Tom Flanagan and Paul Wilson, who had previously worked together in the flooring sector for more than 15 years.
The company operates a sawmill in Ukraine, through which it obtains and processes what are recognised as the best and most consistent supplies of European Oak on the continent.
Alongside this, it offers a product range which utilises a number of native British species, including English Oak, Scottish Douglas Fir and Scottish Elm, and can also provide flooring made from American Black Walnut.
Paul Wilson says: “We have a highly-skilled team and are making these equipment investments to enable them to focus on using their expertise where it’s needed most, rather than spending time on the mundane but essential parts of the manufacturing process.
“This in turn will allow us to operate our production facilities in faster, more efficient and more streamlined ways, which helps us to stay ahead of the competition, improve profitability and grow the business in a sustainable way.
“The NEL team showed a really grounded approach to investing in our growth plans, taking the time to understand our business plan and working to support us right through the application process.”
Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The Woodland Floors team creates desirable products from high-quality materials, and has a robust business plan in place to grow the business in a controlled manner over the medium-to-long term.”
Part of the £130m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of up to £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
The overarching £130m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 2,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
NEL Fund Managers is also responsible for managing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.