BIC tenant doubles turnover

VIZTEK_1_448_305_95Fast-growing safety paving company Viztek has revealed plans to open a manufacturing base in Sunderland to keep pace with demand for its products.

Viztek has doubled its turnover year-on-year since opening in June 2013 and is now on course for revenues of £320,000 by the end of its current financial year.

The company supplies and installs tactile paving tiles, which are used on footpaths, stairs and train station platforms to help pedestrians with sight problems to walk safely. Its biggest customer is Network Rail and it also works with local authorities around the UK.

Currently, the products are manufactured in Hull as part of a joint venture Viztek has with G-Tech but managing director Chris Elliott is keen to start making the specialist tiles in Sunderland. He started the business after working for another company in the sector where he realised there were areas where the products could be improved.

He said: “I’d like to open our own factory in Sunderland within the next year to eighteen months.

“There are two other companies making similar products and we can see improvements to be made. We have a number of unique innovations that no one else is doing. Safety is critical on the railways and we have listened to passenger groups. Anything that can improve safety is hugely important.

“We were very hands-on designing our own tiles. It took us a few months of constantly testing different mixes until we got it right, with uniform colour and thickness. It was all about attention to detail.”

Viztek, which won the creative company of the year title at the 2015 Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards, has supplied and installed its Network Rail-approved innovative safety paving at railway stations across the south, including stations in London and on the Wessex, Sussex and Anglia routes.

Around 60 per cent of Viztek’s work is rail-based and 40 per cent is via the highways departments of local councils. The company currently employs two staff and is looking to add a further two people in the coming months, although the figure will be much larger if Viztek achieves its ambition of opening its own factory in Sunderland.

Chris Elliott worked with Sunderland City Council and the North East BIC from the outset. Help from the City Council allowed the company to attend major trade exhibitions to showcase its products and win new contracts.

“That has allowed us to bring in a lot of revenue,” said Chris Elliott. “It is expensive for a small company like us to attend exhibitions but it has really worked for us.

“A member of the council’s business investment team sits down with us every few months and has been a huge support.”

Sunderland City Council leader, Councillor Paul Watson, said:

“Viztek is a young and ambitious company that has achieved a phenomenal growth arc in just a couple of years.

“We’re delighted the company is planning to start manufacturing its products in Sunderland in the future, which will create more jobs for the city. We look forward to supporting Viztek as it continues to expand.”

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