Elite sports wheelchair manufacturer expands in Staffordshire

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A leading designer and manufacturer of elite sports wheelchairs has doubled the size of its leasehold premises in Staffordshire as it forges ahead with growth plans.

RGK Wheelchairs Ltd, based in Zone 2 of Burntwood Industrial Estate, in Burntwood, has taken on units 4a and 4d – a total of 7,950 sq ft – after agreeing a five-year lease with national commercial property and investment company LCP, which owns and manages the estate.

The business, which makes bespoke wheelchairs for elite athletes, including GB tennis player Jordanne Whiley, basketball player Terry Bywater, and rugby player Jamie Stead, as well as made-to-measure wheelchairs for daily use, says the additional space will enable it to expand to meet the growing global demand for its products.

Michael Sheen, general manager of RGK Wheelchairs, which is part of Sunrise Medical, said adding the new premises to its existing 7800 sq ft of units that it leases from LCP will enable the company to grow and develop.

RGK Wheelchairs also owns another 8000 sq ft premises on the estate and employs 80 staff, and with the expansion hopes to add up to 10 new roles in the first half of 2021.

“We desperately needed more space and before Covid-19 happened, we were about a month away from signing for a huge unit elsewhere on the estate, which would have meant moving our entire operation to a new building,” he said.

“But things came to a halt with lockdown and we had to rethink, so when the unit next to us, which we’ve wanted for about five years, became available, it was a no-brainer, from both a financial and an operational point of view.

“The business has grown a lot over the past five years and we now operate in about 60 countries worldwide and support about 30 elite athletes. There is significant potential for growth over the next five years at least, particularly in the sports market, in which we are dominant.

“Our existing leasehold unit was becoming cramped, so being able to move into the premises next door gives us the perfect opportunity to continue manufacturing safely. It also means our office staff can have more space. It promises to be an exciting new period for the company.”

Nick Bryson, asset manager at LCP, said: “It was fortuitous that the unit RGK Wheelchairs has wanted for some time became available, which means we were able to support its ambitions for growth locally. We’re undertaking some works in the units, so it will be able to move in by mid-October.”

In the past few weeks, LCP has also let five start-up units in Zone 4 of the industrial estate as the estate continues to perform strongly, despite the uncertain climate caused by Covid-19.