Great expectations at Newco: technology upgrade for furniture industry


Newco Products

Newco Products has three custom built factories on a 3,200sq m site at the Bridge Road Depot in Stratford’s Abbey Road for furniture manufacturing including kitchen system, chair, recliner, table, …. Of these, fitted kitchen systems manufacture, the focus of the upgrade, is the biggest single employer by volume; bespoke timber joinery and uPVC windows and doors and support services make up the balance.

A new panel processing line by Ortza was installed by sole UK distributor NEY and the primary purpose of the technology upgrade was the assessment, placement and training as well as direct employment, of some of London’s 20,000 disabled people. Kitchen manufacture was originally established by Newco in the early 80s and moved to the new custom built factory complex at Bridge Road Depot in 1994 producing kitchen cabinet furniture for the council housing and renovation programmes but was, by today’s standards, relatively low key technologically.

Newco Overview

The Newco name was first established in 1922 to provide employment for victims of the first world war, many of whom had been blinded in mustard gas attacks, and has a proud, long standing tradition in training and rehabilitation.

The three shop floors at Bridge Road Depot between them now employ a full time payroll of around 80 people of which 35 work in the kitchen and joinery factories, around 20 in the uPVC plant and the balance in Newco’s support services administrative offices there. The Newco workforce includes people with a range of disabilities, including blindness, some of whom have been on the team for up to 40 years.

Whereas in the past a large proportion of staff were trained by Newco for Newco, the emphasis is now changing. In 2001 an employment programme was introduced under the government’s Workstep programme which placed greater emphasis on moving people from unemployed and supported employment status to mainstream jobs.

Challenges for Newco in Furniture Manufacture

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