Lowestoft: Harrod UK celebrates 60 years in business

Harrod UK is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
Staff at work in the 1980s. Harrod UK is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Staff at work in the 1980s.

Kathryn Bradley
Monday, September 1, 2014
5:32 PM

A company which has marked 60 years in business has shown no signs of slowing down as it continues to make its name on the world stage.

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Harrod UK started back in 1954 with a £300 investment to buy old fishing nets, repair them and sell them on as garden netting.

Six decades down the line, the Lowestoft-based company has become recognised as a market leader in the sports industry and boasts a multi-million pound turnover.

It all began when founder Ron Harrod, now 83, started to convert old herring nets into garden netting in a factory in Lowestoft, using skills traditionally associated with the town’s fishing industry.

A few years down the line, the company started to produce football nets, and later goal posts - and its sport division was born.

Since then, it has gone on to supply goals and nets for the Euro 96 football tournament, Rugby World Cups, Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Olympics in London.

The company is now seen as an industry leader and is often heavily involved with the planning stages of sporting events, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

It is now run by Mr Harrod’s children Chris and Stephanie, with support from sales and marketing director Les Saunders and manufacturing director David Bowling - and employs 125 people at its site in Pinbush Road on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate.

Ms Harrod said it was a fantastic achievement for “a little company from Lowestoft” to be competing on the world stage.

She added: “Our motto is ‘whatever it takes’. It came from the staff but that is also my dad’s mentality. It is still true. It is the way we treat people and we like to think it is the way people treat us as well.”

The company’s main business is now manufacturing goal posts, which are installed on site by its team of experts, and it is a pioneer in goal post safety, with chief executive Chris Harrod representing the United Kingdom on the European Standards Committee for goal post safety.

The company started as R Harrod Ltd before it later became Harrod and started to operate from 30ft by 10ft workshop in Horn Hill.

It produced its first wooden and steel goals in 1959. The business expanded further in 1963 and bought its first netting machine, steel cutting machine and employed a larger workforce.

Additional factory space was created at Horn Hill in 1976 and the company built its factory in Pinbush Road in 1979 with the office accommodation coming later.

In 1980, Harrod achieved its first £1m annual turnover, acquired its first lorry and launched its now ceased Body Bild fitness equipment range, which was promoted by former British shot-putt record-holder and strongman Geoff Capes.

Harrod’s main business is now manufacturing goal posts, which are installed on site by its team of experts, and it is a pioneer in goal post safety, with chief executive Chris Harrod representing the United Kingdom on the Eurpoean Standards Committee for goal post safety.

Its sister company Harrod Horticultural was set up in 1998. Run by Ms Harrod, it sells a range of garden goods and structures. It has been exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show for 11 years and this year won Best Chelsea Garden Product of the Year 2014.

Is your business celebrating a milestone? Email ben.woods@archant.co.uk.

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