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Thursday, 24 July 2014

History-making Maryport firm’s Saracen's rugby team pitch is spot on

A SYNTHETIC sports pitch manufacturer responsible for a piece of sporting history is to kick off a new era of growth after becoming the first company to secure a grant through Britain’s Energy Coast’s Investing in Business programme.

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FIRST: Saracens pitch with artificial turf by Support in Sport Manufacturing Limited. Saracens are the first professional rugby union club to play on a wholly artificial pitch Picture by SiS

Maryport-based Support in Sport Manufacturing Limited (SiS) has been awarded £45,000 through the Britain’s Energy Coast managed programme which utilises £5.6m of funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and a further £1m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The grant is part of a wider £180,000 investment by the company in new and existing equipment that produces synthetic turf for sports including football, cricket, rugby and hockey for customers around the world and is a preferred supplier for the Rugby Football Union, the Football Association and Sports England.

SiS, who are based at Glasson Industrial Estate, recently hit the national headlines for manufacturing and installing an artificial pitch for Aviva Premiership rugby club Saracens at their new Allianz Park ground in Hendon, North London.

The club are the first professional rugby union club to play on a wholly artificial pitch and kicked off this new chapter in sporting history by beating Cardiff Blues in an LV Cup pool match last month.

David Jones, Head of Projects, Energy & Business Support at Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “I’m delighted the first Investing in Business grant has gone to Support in Sport Limited.

“They combined hard economic outputs with an ambition to compete on a national and international stage selling and installing a quality, in demand product which is helping to make history.

“They are an important employer in Maryport and a good example of the kind of hidden gems that make West Cumbria’s business fabric so vibrant and diverse.”

The investment in production line equipment will allow for greater efficiency as well as increased production, whilst SiS will become one of the first companies in Britain to own a new type of “carpet” laying machine, giving them a competitive advantage at home and abroad.

Other SiS Group companies in the UK, Ireland, Eastern Europe and Middle East will have the chance to rent the two carpet laying machines, which will also be made available for general customer hire, giving the company a brand new income stream.

The company says the investment will assist in doubling the wider SiS Group’s turnover in the next four years and help to create eight more jobs to add to its existing 25-strong workforce.

Phil Nichols, Managing Director of SiS Manufacturing, said: “We’re delighted that Britain’s Energy Coast and its funding partners the Regional Growth Fund and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, have supported our own substantial investment, which will help us to grow in the coming years and bring with it benefits to the local economy.

“We are a company at the forefront of what could be a revolution in artificial sports pitches and the history made at the Saracens rugby club ground demonstrated that. These are exciting times for SiS.”

George Mullan, chief executive officer of SIS, said: “Rugby union is a market we entered six years ago when we developed a training pitch for Newcastle Falcons. We are a bespoke firm, and we have to play in the markets we are the strongest in.

“Breaking into rugby union with Saracens opens up major opportunities for us. It’s always a risk, because not everyone is happy with the idea of playing on an artificial pitch.

“But we spoke with coaches and players from different Premier League clubs. We showed them our product, and let them try it out.

“It’s critical people believe in us, and the feedback we’ve had is excellent.

“It’s still early days with rugby union, but having the Saracens officials praise the work we’ve done is a great reflection on our amazing factory workers.”

Business of any size, including start-ups, can apply for grants of £10,000 upwards for investment in fixed assets such as land, buildings, plant and equipment as well as Research and Development.

The programme is targeted at businesses already in Copeland and Allerdale or those looking to move to the area who are involved in manufacturing, processing, engineering and fabrication activities with special emphasis on businesses in West Cumbria’s nuclear and renewable energy supply chain, and tourism attractions.

The deadline for applications is September 30, 2013.

The full criteria for applicants along with an expression of interest form (which needs to be completed before a full application is made) are available to download at www.britainsenergycoast.co.uk/investing-business.

John Clarke, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and a member of the BEC Board, said: “We were extremely pleased to be able to support the BEC Regional Growth Fund scheme given its capacity to help so many companies grow their business here in West Cumbria.

“This first award is a great example of how a local business with distinct expertise can succeed on a national stage, and I hope there are many more businesses out there who will be encouraged to take advantage of the scheme.”

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