New production line will add more capacity and safeguard jobs

Cllr Fielding, centre, and, from left: Richard Mottram, Keith Wardrope and Stephen Hill

Oldham-based Hill’s Panel Products (HPP) has unveiled a £3m production line to expand the manufacture of vinyl-wrapped doors.

The second production line will serve UK and Irish customers.

HPP manufactures its own-brand products including Avanti doors, Glide sliding doors, and Aspect and Aspire kitchens and bedrooms. It also supplies products by other UK and European brands.

It currently offers 6,000 products which cover full and processed MFC (melamine faced chipboard) sheet material, vinyl-wrapped furniture doors and associated furniture fittings.

The new production line enables HPP to increase output of its bespoke vinyl-wrapped doors from 30,000 to 45,000 units per month in the short term.

In the longer term, it can increase manufacturing to 50,000 per month, or more.

Oldham West MP Jim McMahon and Cllr Sean Fielding, leader of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, took part in an official opening ceremony.

HPP managing director, Keith Wardrope, said: “It’s great to see people of such high-calibre and enthusiasm as Jim McMahon and Sean Fielding taking time out of their busy schedules to visit HPP. We all share a desire to support manufacturing and economic development, quality careers and skills.

“This new production line shows the continuing importance of the company’s agenda of moving forward through automation while also securing jobs for people.

“Automation can be seen as a double-edged sword, if it leads to job losses.

“However, HPP is using automation to secure jobs and to grow.

“Automation allows us to be competitive in the door manufacturing market by making production easier and more accurate. But because we are getting busier, we need to recruit more staff.”

HPP’s expansion comes amid significant commercial growth.

Sales grew 16% last year, on top of 15% previously. Door sales rose by 30% and 11 new staff were trained for manufacturing roles.

Company chairman Stephen Hill added: “We manufactured 20,000 doors per month 18 months ago.

“Then output rose to 30,000 in 2018. With this new production line, output will rise to 45,000 per month and we have the capacity to go higher to 50,000 or more.

“HPP is now one of the leading vinyl-wrapped doors and kitchen and bedroom component manufacturers in the UK. We now operate 24-hours-a-day, five days of the week at Oldham, which is a considerable expansion of operations and staff.”

HPP finance director Richard Mottram said: “Support from Handelsbanken has been very important to fund our new manufacturing and building projects.

“Since 2001, our turnover has grown from £5m to £34m, which is excellent growth.

“Opening this additional line is an important landmark for our continued expansion and development, for manufacturing and for our support to the UK furniture industry.”