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UK’s only wheelbarrow maker doubles production at Walsall site

By John Corser | Business | Published:

The UK’s only wheelbarrow manufacturer, The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company, has more than doubled its capacity and is set to reach an annual turnover of £10 million this year after securing a £450,000 funding package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Family-owned The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company has its origins in the 1940s.

The Thacker family began making wheelbarrows in the garden shed under the name Thacker Barrows. The business is now the only remaining wheelbarrow manufacturer in the UK, and supplies customers across the construction, agriculture and retail sectors.

Following an increase in orders from retail customers including Amazon, Homebase and Screwfix, with an increasing number of Brits taking up gardening, the business needed to expand capacity to maximise on the growing demand.

The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company used a £450,000 hire purchase facility from Lloyds Bank to invest in a new powder painting machinery to spray paint its products without impacting day to day cashflow. This comes after Lloyds Bank announced it would be lending up to £2.5 billion to West Midlands businesses in 2019.

The new machinery has helped to increase capacity by 133 per cent meaning the business can now produce 3,500 wheelbarrows a day, compared with 1,500 previously, and forecasts an almost 20 per cent increase in turnover from £8.4m to £10m

Established in 1995 and based in Willenhall, The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company is the UK’s only manufacturer of entire wheelbarrows. It makes the widest range of wheelbarrow products in the marketplace with different sizes, colours and specifications for the construction, agriculture and retail sectors.

This includes its new Barrow-in-a-Box product, a ready-to-assemble wheelbarrow that comes in a small, portable box, which was designed in response to demand from the retail sector.

Jonathan Thacker, owner at The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company, said: “My grandfather Fred began making wheelbarrows in his garden shed in the 1940s. The business is now owned by myself and my brother, and we’re getting more and more orders from right across the UK.

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"In the last few years gardening has become an emerging trend with retailers reporting record plant sales[1]. Thanks to this, we’ve been selling more and more of our wheelbarrows to the retail sector. Spring is always particularly busy with people spending the Easter and the May bank holidays tending to their gardens, and this year we wanted to ensure that we had the capacity to take on more orders.

“The hire purchase facility has enabled us to invest in top of the range machinery that will increase our efficiency without having a negative impact on our working capital. The new machine uses around 40 per cent less energy than the previous one, so we’re saving on electricity and gas while reducing our carbon footprint. Lloyds Bank has been by our side throughout the entire investment and has taken the time to understand what we want for our business.”

Phil Davies, relationship director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A continued focus on innovation and new product development has kept The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company at the forefront of the industry. Its expanded capacity will enable it to continue to succeed in a nation of avid gardeners.

“Helping local, family-run businesses to expand and maximise on demand is a big part of our commitment to helping Britain prosper. We look forward to continuing to work with The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company as the business continues to thrive.”

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star Business Editor at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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