Updated: Tuesday, 2nd June 2020 @ 1:57pm

Let there be light! Trafford firm bucks recession with sparkling Louis Vuitton and BMW deals

Let there be light! Trafford firm bucks recession with sparkling Louis Vuitton and BMW deals

By David Aspinall

From humble beginnings in his bedroom to fitting light installations for international monolith Louis Vuitton, Gary Heald and Projection Lighting have come a long way since the business was founded 23 years ago.

Last year saw the Trafford-based firm received awards from the lighting industry for their consistent product quality, and from the government for their sustained growth in exports.

However the company’s founder, who left Sale Grammar School with no qualifications, is not getting carried away.

He said: “It’s not how you measure a business, you measure it in its profitability, but it’s always nice to pick up awards.”

What is most staggering about their growth is how they have bucked the trend in the last four years by increasing turnover by 50% and more than doubled their number of employees, all during the hardest part of the recession.

Gary laughed off the thought of having some sort of secret weapon and puts it down to one simple thing – investment in good technology.

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He said: “We moved with the best technology, with LED’s, about five years ago and that’s been the main reason.

“When everybody else was cutting back we were investing in new people and new facilities and started manufacturing back in the UK so we could control it better.

“This meant we had easier market penetration which worked very well for us.”

From their base in Trafford Park they now manufacture 85% of their products compared to just 10% pre-recession.

This has required them to increase staff numbers from 20 to 45 employees and has seen the factory space double in size.

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At the core of this development is their AlphaLED range, something Gary describes as ‘crucial’.

“LED is the lighting of the near-future but not all LED technology is reliable, even from the biggest companies,” he said.

“The key to our success is that we offer the best technology in the market.”

As a result of their products’ consistent high quality they received the Manufacturer of the Year award from Lux Magazine, the lighting industry’s official publication, in November.

Consequently they have picked up contracts for the aforementioned Louis Vuitton, alongside Caffè Nero and fitting every Asda store.

When pushed for his proudest deal the 55-year-old chose German car giants BMW and installing lights in their Italian showrooms, describing it as ‘one of our biggest coups’.

He said: “German lighting companies dominate the commercial industry all over the world and tend to stick together.

“So to do that in Italy, the home of the lighting design manufacturers and some of the biggest in the world, it was a great coup to get that particular project.”

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The Manchester United season ticket holder’s company now export to 40 countries worldwide, including New Zealand, Australia and Japan, which represents 30% of their turnover.

This alerted the government, who awarded Projection with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the UK’s most prestigious business honour back in April 2013.

Unsurprisingly Gary has no intentions of resting on his laurels and is determined to push Projection Lighting to even greater heights and has already earmarked its next target.

“We’re growing as a business and we’re look for a partnership in North America which is a very big market,” he said.

“We need an American base for that because they protect their markets with a quality mark, which makes it very difficult to penetrate the market without a partner over there.”

Not bad for someone who left school with no qualifications, eh?!

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