Wednesday June 5 2019

Preston bedroom start up celebrates 25 years

Preston bedroom start up celebrates 25 years

A Preston retail services company is celebrating 25 years in business – and has grown from a spare bedroom-based startup in Fulwood to a £14.5m turnover employer of 30.

And according to chief financial officer Martin Eastwood, Suresite Group is on target to break the £16.5m turnover barrier within three years.

When Suresite was launched by company chair and petroleum industry expert Geoff Oldham in 1994, it was as a provider of H&S audits for fuel forecourts. A change in legislation meant that the fledgling firm’s consultancy services were in demand from petrol stations looking to sure up site safety. Many of the big names came on board, including Esso, Gulf and Jet and the Millennium City Retail Park firm now works with over 2,200 forecourts across the UK and Ireland.

With a strong drive to diversify and a senior management team intent on cross-selling to customers, the company added a merchant services wing in 2004. Last year Suresite Card Services processed £2.6billion card payments and added convenience retailer Costcutter to its customer list.

In 2014, Suresite branched into H&S training for forecourts – an obvious add-on to its established consultancy service- and in 2016, Suresite Wetstock brought to market the first real time 24/7 fuel monitoring system. A world first in fuel leak detection, Suresite took 11 percent of the UK wetstock monitoring market share by its second year and last year took on customers in South Africa and America.

For chief business development officer Keith Bevan, who has been with the company since 2012, it’s all in a day’s work.

“You simply can’t stay still in business,” he said. “If you sit tight, you will very quickly fall behind the competition.

 “I strongly believe that Suresite Group is still thriving and growing as a company after 25 years because the senior management has also taken the attitude of ‘what next?’”

After a sustained period of development and expansion, the company took the difficult decision to restructure in 2018. The new Group approach saw Suresite’s administrative function centralised in order to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

“We’d essentially been operating as four semi-independent companies,” said Keith, “which we all knew didn’t make sense.

“The end of 2018 was a challenging time, with several redundancies and other employees who didn’t like the changes choosing to leave.

“But we’ve put a lot of effort into boosting morale – including introducing flexible working and a casual dress code – and I can honestly say that the atmosphere in the office has not been better in my seven years with the company. Everyone has really pulled together and embraced the changes.”

Savings have been ploughed into both the IT and sales departments, with four new sales specialists appointed this April and May. Another change is that the company’s self employed H&S consultants have all been converted onto full time employed contracts.

Chief financial officer Martin Eastwood joined the company in 2018, from EnServe Group, a Macclesfield-headquartered £100m revenue division of a private equity company.

He said: “It’s been a year of change and streamlining at Suresite Group that should see us fit to break the £16.5million turnover barrier within the next three years.

“I am confident that last year’s restructure has put us in pole position to grow both turnover and profit –and to provide even higher levels of service to our international customer base.”

Geoff Oldham, company chair, said: “We’ve come a long way in 25 years and we couldn’t have done it without the amazing people who work for us. They not only give of their all, but they make head office a warm and welcoming place to be.

“I may not be around to see all of it, but here’s to the next 25 years!”

"Its been a year of change and streamlining at Suresite Group that should see us fit to break the 16.5million turnover barrier within the next three years"
Martin Eastwood, CFO, Suresite Group

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