North Devon company commits its future to the area
A Braunton company whose wetsuits have been worn in numerous Harry Potter films and other Hollywood blockbusters has committed its future to North Devon.
With the help of Business Link services delivered by Peninsula Enterprise, Reed Chillcheaters� has refused to follow the lure of cheap manufacturing in China and instead invested in new technology on its doorstep.
Production capacity of the lightweight suits developed by the company has leapt from 100,000 to one million, thanks to a grant for new production equipment secured partly with help from Business Link.
As well as sports and adventure enthusiasts worldwide, the Reed Chillcheater product has been used in no less than eight Harry potter films, as well as other movies including Gulliver’s Travels and The Boat That Rocked.
Founder and owner Chris Reed developed the company’s light and breathable fabrics based on his experience as a textile designer for high street chains.
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In 1999 he and wife Joanne started the business from their home, focusing on recreational watersports, going on to supply movies as well as the emergency and armed services.
Chris saw the means of expanding production during a trip to China, as he pondered options for the future.
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“I quickly saw that maintaining manufacturing here was vastly preferable to going abroad and I came back more determined than ever to build our future here,” her said.
“Business Link was an important help. They undertook a full audit and review of the company and its needs, following it up with a detailed action plan and help with identifying and successfully applying for the grant.”
The company employs eight full-time plus eight part time staff. Chris now plans to develop and hone new skills through the Business Link’s High Growth Skills Service.
“Our team is already incredibly strong, but I’m very confident that this work and the addition of one or two graduates will make it a really unbeatable workforce as we grow as a business and expand the team,” he said.
Business Link can be contacted on 0845 600 9966 or visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/southwest.