|When William Hughes opened its new production facility in Bulgaria in 2004, it was hard to imagine that nine years later the operation would have proved so successful that the factory has expanded four-fold. Located near Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second city, William Hughes' 4320 square metre, custom-built factory now employs 131 people and its scope and product capability continues to grow as new machinery and processes are added.|
William Hughes specialises in the manufacture of springs and bent wire assemblies. Production is split between its UK headquarters in Stalbridge, Dorset and Bulgaria, depending on the type of product and the location of the customer; for example, products requiring a higher labour content are generally channelled to Bulgaria. Torsion springs are a particular area of expertise in Plovdiv and there is additionally a strong local demand for this type of spring.
William Hughes is also an approved supplier for Johnson Controls and a major new contract for Turkey involving parts for a popular minibus, has accounted for a 20% increase in turnover. Over 45 new parts are involved, including a mixture of bent wire, springs and assemblies. Turkey is only a few hours from Plovdiv by road (414 Km) so the benefits of supplying locally are many. Other supplier customers include Fehrer, Lear and CTS, with most parts destined for the automotive market, in particular vehicle seating.
As demand for its high quality products has grown, new machinery and processes have been installed in Bulgaria to help support the UK manufacturing facility. For example, last year, four new wire forming machines were installed bringing the total in Bulgaria to 29. Robot welding capacity has been increased two-fold with 6 robots being fully utilised.
The company has also added two vertical injection moulding machines with a capacity of 120 and 250 tonnes. Traditionally, William Hughes has made clipped car seat mats but these new machines allow the seat mats to be over-moulded, dispensing with the need for clips altogether and providing an assembly that is both strong and fast to manufacture.
New finishing processes have also been installed at the factory enabling wire parts to be coated with Delta Tone and Delta Seal for corrosion protection.
As Max Hughes, Managing Director, William Hughes concludes, "Establishing our first overseas production facility was an exciting experience. We have seen a growing demand for our products from the developing local markets in Romania, Serbia and Turkey as well as the traditional markets in the UK, Poland, France and Germany. We are delighted with the continuing success of the project. With our reinvestment programme, we look forward to the continuing growth of our facilities to the benefit of both the local economy and our overall UK capability".