A cycle clothing manufacturer is gearing up for growth after investing £100,000 in new technology with the support of Made Smarter.
Lusso, based in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, is a brand used by professional and amateur cyclists globally.
It is run by Jake Wright, a 24-year-old former professional cyclist and twice junior national time trial champion, who is leading the 40-year-old business through a digital transformation.
With the support of the Made Smarter North West adoption programme, a government-funded initiative to help SME manufacturers digitalise, decarbonise and grow through technology, Lusso is replacing manual production processes with an Auto CAD and CAM system, material scanner and photo digitiser technology.
This investment will speed up the cutting process by 80%, increase productivity by 400%, boost revenue, open up to new global markets, and create three new jobs in the next 12 months.
It will also start a new chapter, allowing founder John Harrison, also a former champion cyclist, to retire, and maintaining Lusso’s proud position as one of the only two cycle clothing companies still making all its products in the UK.
Jake Wright, Managing Director, said: “We want to be recognised as one of the major cycling clothing brands in the UK, to build on the excellent strong reputation of our products and services by expanding into new markets, and to continue to grow international sales.
“Made Smarter has given us the know-how, the confidence and the digital tools to take this business to another level.”
Lusso was established in 1982 by cyclist John Harrison and his wife Dorothy, and has earned a reputation for the quality, price, sustainability and longevity of its products.
Wright took over the business In 2021, keeping John on as part of the succession strategy.
After a rebrand, which included a new website, product restructure and increased marketing activity, orders increased. But the business struggled to keep up with demand because traditional manual cutting processes relied on John’s skill and expertise.
Jake turned to Made Smarter who worked with the business to create a digital roadmap and connected them with Vetigraph, a fashion industry digital solution company, to develop a technology solution to overcome their key challenges and understand the process of pattern digitisation.
The technology will allow Lusso to meet the demand for custom cycling clothing for clubs, teams and even charity events, and allow the business to venture into other sportswear markets such as football, rugby, run and gym wear.
The technology will also enable former owner John Harrison to retire knowing the business will continue to grow.
Jake added: “John built a fantastic and well-loved brand with his bare hands over four decades. I have been honoured to take on the business and develop a roadmap to a digital future and a successful one.”
Donna Edwards, Director of Made Smarter’s North West Adoption programme, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Lusso to accelerate its digital transformation.
“It is a fantastic example of a small business investing in technologies as a route to growth, prosperity and sustainability.
“Lusso is among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, support with technology investment, and leadership and skills training. I would encourage other SME manufacturers to do the same.”
Launched in the North West in 2019, Made Smarter has supported more than 2,500 businesses. This includes 250 manufacturers who have collectively invested £18M in technologies which enable them to integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes, others are now using 3D-printing, automation, and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.
By adopting cutting-edge technologies, these businesses are benefitting from improved productivity and revenue, increased exports and job creation, an upskilled workforce, lower energy bills, and a reduced carbon footprint.
Almost 1,300 new jobs are forecast to be created, 2,400 existing roles upskilled, and an additional £209M in GVA for the North West economy over the next three years.