Thorn Lighting

Reconfiguring a factory to save £3.5 million.

Collinson Grant helped to improve profitability while relocating the business to a new site that won ‘Best Factory of the Year 2009’.

The Zumtobel Group provides professional lighting equipment under its Zumtobel and Thorn brands. Thorn Lighting employs 3,000 people in Europe, Asia and Australia and has sales of €500 million. It is the market leader in the UK. Collinson Grant’s relationship with the company goes back over twenty years.

Thorn’s sprawling main plant in County Durham suffered from too many manufacturing halls, large internal distances to cover, and poor process-flows. So Thorn was ready to move to a new, technically advanced factory on a brown-field site. But in the economic slowdown, big savings had to be made to justify the business case for the move. We were asked to reconfigure the business to save £3.5 million in overheads and staffing, direct and indirect.

A measure of our commitment

We were confident that we could achieve the savings so we agreed to link our fees to results. This reassured the managers that the aims were achievable. We worked on a series of vital projects:

  • to design the shop floor to reduce complexity and achieve the most efficient flows of material and information
  • to reconfigure roles, responsibilities and competences to get the best from the new layout
  • to reduce overheads and analyse variable expenses to uncover costs that could be taken out
  • to evaluate the culture of the business and define the changes needed to achieve the ideal model.

We also created and managed a project office responsible for controlling the physical move to the new site. We set milestones and planned resources and accountabilities for all aspects of the move. The structure for communicating with and reporting to all stakeholders was clearly defined.

The savings exceeded the £3.5 million originally planned for. On-time delivery was increased, with fewer variances in labour or materials. The organisational structure is now the model for the group’s other sites. The ultimate confirmation of our success was the award – at the Best Factory Awards run by Cranfield School of Management and Works Management magazine – of the prestigiousFactory of the Year 2009.

Dr Marek Szwejczewski, the Director of the Awards, said:

“Thorn Lighting stood out for its attention to quality, cost and delivery. Its Spennymoor factory is extremely customer focused and its performance has been so good that it is bringing products back to the UK from overseas plants.”

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