2007 MX Award for Business Development and Change Management

Hozelock, the UK’s leading supplier of garden hose, watering accessories and pond equipment, has won a major industry award for the way it has developed its business and managed change in the face of threats from the environment, in the form of hosepipe bans, and from cheap imports from the Far East.

The Manufacturing Excellence Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was presented to a Hozelock team headed by managing director Peter Rush and director of manufacturing, Martin Marron following an in-depth audit of the company’s practices by the Institution’s panel of expert assessors. Past award winners have included some of the biggest names in British industry, among them British Steel, Dunlop Slazenger, IBM (UK), Jaguar Cars, Rolls-Royce and Westland Helicopters.

In choosing first-time entrant Hozelock for its prestigious 2007 MX Award for Business Development and ChangeManagement (and also shortlisting the company for the Product Innovation and Customer Focus awards), the judges were hugely impressed by the way in which the company had managed an extensive programme of change over two years with “foresight and leadership”, maintaining the support of its staff and reaping deserved commercial rewards.

The clinching factor for the judges was the "truly outstanding" way that Hozelock had driven through change from a position of strength and market leadership in moving towards a sustainable long-term future. “It has certainly been an incredible journey,” said MD, Peter Rush, “and this award will be appreciated by our employees, all of whom have risen to huge challenges in order to see through far-reaching change processes to a successful conclusion.”

Hozelock’s significant initiatives included the consolidation of its manufacturing operations on one site at Midpoint Park, Sutton Coldfield having previously been spread over five sites – with a consequent 40% reduction in its permanent workforce; and the launch in 2006 of 14 new products including a major range of ‘water-wise’ innovations to counter the threat of hosepipe bans.

Award-winning new products such as the AquaPod drip watering system, a Water Butt Pump and Water-Storing Gel & Feed have more than doubled Hozelock’s sales of water saving irrigation equipment this year.

"Two years ago we set out to reduce complexity through a radical restructuring programme which was delivered on time and within budget," said Peter Rush. "Simplicity, flexibility and innovation are now at the core of all our operations and this benefits our end users, our trade customers, our suppliers and our employees while also improving the profitability of the business and securing its future.

"What started out as my vision for the business has been transformed into reality by the Hozelock management team and a loyal workforce through determination, inspiration and hard work.

"We were very sorry to lose some valued employees during this vital consolidation process but we have been recruiting new skilled staff at our recently extended 33,400 sq m state-of-the-art manufacturing site at Midpoint Park which will continue to grow in line with our development needs."