INNOVATION and diversification are key growth strategies, both harnessed by a Glasgow-based family firm to scale-up to £5m additional turnover in just one year.

Originally a kitchen and bathroom studio in Dunfermline, Rearo Laminates was established in the early 90s with a manufacturing facility in Glasgow making and supplying laminate worktops and wall paneling.

When current MD and family member Graham Mercer joined Rearo in 1992, the company had eight staff. Now with 100 employees, adding further over-the-counter and distribution premises in Inverness, Rosyth, Ayr, Gateshead and Newport, Rearo additionally operates from 60,000 sq ft of manufacturing space in Govan with plans to expand further and boost the £10m annual turnover.

Steady growth is good, but to be able to scale a business is infinitely better. And innovation and diversification are at the heart of that opportunity. For Rearo a key turning point in terms of diversification was the decision to become a distributor for Formica wall panels and worktops in 1987. In terms of innovation, the decision to set up a manufacturing facility in Glasgow in 1991 was pivotal, as this enabled the family to produce top quality worktops and wall panels right here in Scotland.

However, since early 2016 the company’s main focus has been innovating the entire business model. Mercer says that together, management and staff have embarked on the greatest — most concentrated — period of business change in the company’s 26-year history.

“We have invested £250,000 in transforming production processes and working practices, developing new products and embedding a genuine commitment to customer service across the company.

“In early 2016, a tenant moved out of the adjoining premises, which put Rearo at a crossroads. The company could either find a new tenant, providing long-term income, or it could have faith in its own abilities, take over the premises, and embark upon a business growth strategy.

“We decided that the time was right to expand and transform our manufacturing and logistics processes. Every facet of Rearo’s business has been scrutinised, with the most advanced or cloud solutions adopted. A comprehensive programme of training was rolled out, to ensure all staff members, from management to production floor, were familiar and confident with the new technology.”

Harnessing new technology has also been key, upgrading property assets and showrooms, and making significant capital investment in upgrading IT and telecom systems.

Opportunity is also knocking in overseas markets, says Mercer, with an online shop enabling Rearo to break into export markets, particularly Iceland and South Africa, and to capitalise on cheaper Sterling. But the biggest opportunity for scale comes from an innovative new product, shower wall panels, that Mercer believes will transform bathroom décor and tempt people away from traditional tiled shower enclosures.

Michelle Rodger is a communications consultant