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Work at height regs provide Combisafe with golden future

PLANT - Safety specialist aims to double turnover as demand soars

HEIGHT safety equipment specialist Combisafe is set for further expansion on the back of high demand from contractors looking to meet work at height legislation.

The Swedish-owned company, which makes products ranging from edge protection to safety net fans, has grown rapidly as the demand for height safety has boomed and is now targeting both overseas markets and the hire sector Turnover has risen sixfold in the seven years since it set up in the UK. But according to managing director Bengt Rolen the target for the Northamptonbased firm is to almost double its current turnover of £12.5 million in the next three years.

He said: 'We want to hit £23 million by 2009 by organic growth because the market here is very busy and the markets overseas are rapidly becoming more aware of height safety. But the only way we can grow faster is to put more people into the organisation.'

The firm also has a warchest for acquisitions where appropriate, he said.

Mr Rolen said that British contractors and clients were starting to realise the advantages of factoring in edge and height protection as early as possible in the construction process.

He said: 'It is now definitely a boardroom decision. If we can get in as early as possible with clients or contractors, and as high as possible in the hierarchy, then much smarter solutions are possible.'

Mr Rolen said that despite a higher take-up of edge protection due to the work at height regulations, there was still significant potential for selling Combisafe's range of modular steel mesh barriers for both concrete and steel decks.

He said: 'We are offering systemised safety, whereas the majority of jobs still use tube and fitting barriers or even nothing at all. Scaffolding is not unsafe, we just think you can do it smarter.'

Having worked with large steel and concrete contractors and precast manufacturers to develop customised barriers, Combisafe is now targeting the smaller operators via deals with hire firms.

The product portfolio is also being developed, with focus on the adjustable brackets for mesh barriers and the safety net fan, which combines a material protection mesh with a fall arrest net.

Mr Rolen said: 'We are working on a number of developments with the fan. Demand is being driven by the user, because it can protect both the worker and the public. But we currently have a unique niche with the product.'

At the same time, the firm's Alsipercha pillar-mounted harness is being further modified to serve workers in loading and unloading operations.