Kitchen supplier steeled for growth

Twelve years ago the employees of Science Workshops Ltd bought the business from their boss; now they are planning to buy one of their suppliers. Once again The Co-operative Loan Fund is helping with appropriate loan finance.

Science Workshops supplies and maintains the complete range of commercial catering equipment from freezers to ovens, air cleaners to dishwashers and much more. It also offers a 24/7 hire and repair service throughout south, west and mid-Wales.

The business was established in 1970 but in 2002 the employees bought it from the original owner with help from the Wales Co-operative Centre and Co-operative & Community Finance. The seven-person co-operative is based in a large converted farm building, on land belonging to the previous business owner, near the tiny village of Manordeilo in Carmarthenshire.

A significant part of the business involves the fabrication and installation of bespoke stainless steel units. At present the fabrication is done by a small local business, SKF Ltd, of which Science Workshops is the main customer. Science Workshops is buying 49% of the shares in the business with a plan to take over completely when the owner retires.

Service manager Richard Smith, who has worked for the co-operative and the original company for over 30 years, said: “Buying into SKF will give us more control over an important source of supply and hopefully will reduce some costs. Then if we increase sales of stainless steel fabrications it’s onwards and upwards for Science Workshops.”

Ian Taylor, speaking on behalf of The Co-operative Loan Fund, said: “We helped Science Workshops to become a co-operative 12 years ago, and now we are helping them in a further stage of their development. They’ve had loans before and have never missed a repayment. They run a practical no-nonsense manufacturing business.”