Cable adds his backing to Ashwood Products

An innovative manufacturer from Somerset was showcased to the Business Secretary Vince Cable last week as part of a display promoting innovative SMEs.

Ashwood Products was handpicked to be part of the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s first ever exhibition at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Victoria Street Headquarters in London.

Dr Cable was given an insight into the firm’s new shepherd huts, which are being used by bed and breakfast owners, as art studios and by an increasing number of ‘glampers’.

He spoke with company bosses about the current economic landscape, apprenticeships, international trade and the type of specialist support the company needs to unlock its potential.

The Business Secretary also used the exhibition to praise the vital role SME manufacturers are playing in the economic recovery, with this vital and often overlooked segment of the industry making up over 95% of England’s manufacturing businesses and employing 1.1 million people.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “We are rightly proud of the manufacturing talent we have in this country, but larger household names are just part of the success story.

“There are more than 110,000 small to medium sized businesses, who are investing in developing new products and technologies that will be used across the world. This showcase gives visitors a firsthand glimpse of some great British success stories.

“The Government wants to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. With the support of the Manufacturing Advisory Service, SMEs are overcoming challenges and identifying new opportunities, leading to increased sales and the creation of new jobs.”

The Manufacturing showcase has been running for two weeks and featured seven companies and their products. In addition to Ashwood Products, there were:

· Alucast (manufacturers of the top and bottom caps for the Olympic torch)
· Anglepoise (distinctive office and home lighting)
· Ecospin (designers and manufacturers of the electric powered Raptor)
· Flying Fish (lightweight hovercrafts)
· Grillstream (new technology for BBQ and commercial cooking systems)
· Kleenoil (fuel efficiency and emissions reductions product)

The showcase also featured an exhibition on the Manufacturing Advisory Service and the types of support it offers to SMEs, ranging from assistance with strategy and process improvements to new product development and supply chain development.

In the last year, the organisation has worked with 12,000 firms in England, helping deliver a forecasted additional £620m of GVA to the economy.

This specialist support is predicted to safeguard and create approximately 27,000 jobs.

Simon Howes, Area Director of MAS in the South West, explained: “I’m delighted at the response we have had and the interest shown from visitors to the showcase, many of whom have been from overseas.”

He concluded: “This is a great way to put SME manufacturers in the spotlight and demonstrate how MAS works for the sector. It is also the perfect way to gain momentum for our forthcoming Manufacturing Matters campaign.”