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Creating wire successes in town
11:00am Friday 9th August 2013 in News
IT is a name synonymous with the town’s heritage and its clients include Wembley Stadium, Korean oil rigs and Lady Gaga.
And while it may no longer be as powerful in Warrington as it once was, Lockers is proving a quiet success story.
First founded in the town in 1878, the wire weaving company grew to become the biggest private employer in the town by the mid 1950s.
Indeed owner Thomas Locker was the first person to weave wire on a steam powered loom.
Major shareholders in the rugby league club - for whom Wire would become a nickname still used today - the family provided a number of Mayors for Warrington.
But competition from the Far East in the 1990s meant Lockers future was under threat.
That was until Howard Platt and Bill Spencer organised a management buy-out of Locker Wire Weavers in 2004.
Almost a decade on and the company is now turning over almost £10million, making a healthy profit, and operating with 45 members of staff - compared to a low of 25 in 2004.
And while wire weaving itself no long takes place at the company’s Farrell Street factory - they buy in from around 30 suppliers across the world such as the Far East and Sweden and Germany - the future looks very bright.
Howard, aged 58, said: “Manufacturing wise we are never going to compete with the Far East.
“So we have to be good at what we are good at. Our reputation is crucial.”
The company now consists of four different trading divisions:
- Industrial wirecloth (largely used for filtration such as oil),
- Architectural meshes (used sometimes only aesthetically in buildings such as Headingly cricket ground in Leeds),
- Offshore heatshielding for oil rigs, protecting workers,
- And most innovative, an online trading business for mesh and wire sales for private individuals or companies - run by Howard’s 30-year-old son, Chris.
Born and brought up in the area and now living in Thelwall, Howard says he is aware of the history of the company.
He added: “We are not weaving wire anymore and we had a lot of angst about taking that decision.
“And that was a big deal and there was a lot of heart searching.
“This company gave its name to the Locker Cup between Warrington and Wigan and many of the players worked here when rugby league was semi professional.
“Lockers was the cornerstone of the community.
“So there was a sense of history.”
But as Howard explains, now the company now invests in people as much as machinery.
“Twenty years ago we perhaps would have spent money on the latest machine.
“Now we invest in the brightest minds and best people.
“On the architect side, people want their buildings and work to win awards, and that means making them unique.
“The more bright people we have, the better we will do.
“We are a lot more innovative than we were perhaps 20 years ago.”
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