Leeds manufacturer relocates to new factory to keep up with demand

Neil Smith hands the rains to John Bentley

Leeds manufacturer Herida Healthcare has moved into a new factory twice the size to keep up with growing demand. The company, which only started trading in 2016, relocated to the 30,000 sq ft unit at Leeds 27 Industrial Park, Morley, at the beginning of November.

Herida Healthcare manufactures specialist mattresses for the elderly and infirm to avoid pressure sores, and entered the moving and handling sector about 12 months ago with a range of slings and hoists.

Its foam and air-pump mattresses, and slings are sold to community equipment stores, NHS trusts and long-term care homes through a dealer network across the UK, with about 25 per cent of products exported, mainly to Australasia.

The factory move has already led to an extra six jobs, bringing the headcount to 42, with plans to increase that number significantly with the introduction of shift working within the next two or three years.

Founder Neil Smith said: “As many businesses are pulling out of manufacturing we are moving up. We know that by being agile and quick to respond to demand we have a competitive advantage and can be profitable.”

The rapid growth of the company is also down to support from the public sector, said Neil. Advice and grants have been secured with support from organisations such as Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Leeds City Council, and programmes such as Ad:Venture, which provides support for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

“The grants have helped us buy equipment and become more efficient in the manufacturing process and that can be the difference between a business thriving or not surviving at all,” said Neil.

Sarah Carling, Ad:Venture programme manager, said: “Herida Healthcare is a fantastic success story that shows that the public and private sectors really can work hand in hand to bring prosperity and jobs, and boost the local economy.”

Herida Healthcare moved just five miles to the new factory at Leeds 27 Industrial Estate, partly because the company wanted to keep as many as possible of its skilled workforce.

To coincide with the move Neil has passed over the reins to a new managing director, John Bentley, who joined the company just two months ago, bringing significant experience in the wound care sector with brands such as Smith & Nephew. Neil will stay on as chairman. In addition, David Emmerson joins Herida Healthcare as the head of operations from Johnson & Johnson. The fourth director is co-founder John Kay.

John Bentley said: “It really is an exciting time to join, as this is a company on the up and up. The existing team has done a great job by bringing the business from conception, a little over three and a half years ago, to that of a very profitable, large-scale, British-manufacturing outfit, serving a global customer base. And the brand new factory means our long term prospects are excellent.”