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A&D Sports, Rochdale - SME (Manufacturing)

Rochdale-based A&D Sports, which designs, manufactures and supplies high-end gym equipment, is going from strength to strength after installing a super-efficient on-site packaging system.
 
Founded in 1995, the company produces a wide range of strength, functional and boxing training equipment under its own brand, Exigo, and under license for other leading sports brands.  
 
Having won industry-wide recognition for its high-quality designs and products in 2016, A&D Sports has moved rapidly from a purely UK-based, small order quantity business model to taking large orders from anywhere in the world.  
 
Orders are expected to increase five-fold in 2017, with sales coming from both bigger UK customers and new clients in Germany, Belarus, Russia and Sweden.
 
Packaging dilemma

While welcome, the rapid growth and launch into overseas markets caused a packaging dilemma for the company. 
 
While sales were local and in smaller quantities, packaging was not a major concern; most orders were simply wrapped in blankets and installed by A&D Sports directly. 
 
However, large international orders meant that A&D Sports had to redesign their products for flat-packing. 
 
With a huge product range and diverse set of pack sizes and dimensions, packaging quickly became a critical issue. Minimum order quantities for cardboard boxes resulted in cash being tied up in a range of different packaging stock and a shortage of warehousing space.
 
Cutting-edge solution

To find a solution, A&D Sports worked closely with environmental business advisors at Greater Manchester’s Business Growth Hub, who signposted them to a Box on Demand system supplied by local packaging specialists, Ribble Packaging. 
 
The innovative packaging system produces custom-sized, FSC-approved corrugated cardboard packaging on-site for each order, thereby ensuring the optimum amount of material is used and slashing costs in the process.
 
The same cutting-edge technology is being trialled by Amazon to reduce over-packaging.
 
A&D Sports installed their own system in August 2016 and the impact on the business has been enormous.
 
Impact
 
For example, A&D Sports could previously fit just 16 of its adjustable bench products into a 20ft shipping container. Now with its bespoke flat-packing solution, the company can fit 96 benches into the same space – a 500 per cent improvement. 
 
This means that for every shipping container transported, 800kg of timber packaging will be avoided and an 80 per cent reduction in related transport emissions is predicted.
 
The cost saving on shipping and vehicle movements in 2017 alone is expected to be around 83 per cent.
 
Next steps

Darren Golden, founder and managing director of A&D Sports, said: “Our Box on Demand system is brilliant – I absolutely love it.
 
“Our cardboard packaging is now made exactly to order, as well as being fully recyclable and FSC approved. I’ve mentioned the technology to several people and no one has come across it before, so we are indebted to the Business Growth Hub’s detailed knowledge of what’s out there in the market.”
 
“We’re now looking forward to further work to optimise our system and reduce packaging use by investing in new machinery, minimising internal cushioning and exploring alternative eco-friendly materials.”
 
Claire Scott, environmental business advisor at the Hub, added: “A&D Sports’ story is an example of how a growing business can quickly find itself facing spiralling costs and environmental impacts. But there are always solutions – you just need to know where to look.”

To find out more about the Business Growth Hub’s environmental business support for SMEs, or to read other success stories, click here.