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North firm WoodBlocX aims for more business in Europe and the US after £750k investment

Henry Blake, founder and managing director of WoodBlocX
Henry Blake, founder and managing director of WoodBlocX

A Dingwall firm is expanding its manufacturing capacity, with a £750,000 investment in a project expected to double production and create new jobs.

WoodBlocX makes kits for building raised beds and landscaping gardens. Based on a patented system, the product allows wooden blocks to be assembled to create a multitude of structures. It can be used for many purposes including retaining walls, steps, outdoor seating and ponds.

The company has produced more than 40,000 bespoke designs for gardens all over the UK and beyond.

It currently employs 16 people in Dingwall and two in Frankfurt, Germany, but there are plans to recruit four new production employees in Ross-shire over the next year.

Economic development quango Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) awarded a grant of £188,000 for the expansion project, which will see a second manufacturing facility built with a view to increasing exports and improving overall productivity.

It’s great to have secured support from HIE – this will enable us to move swiftly forward with our growth strategy.”

Henry Blake, WoodBlocX

WoodBlocX plans to install new plant and equipment including saws, dust extractors and a waste conveyor.

These investments are expected to significantly boost production capacity and ensure continued service quality, with the aim being to double international turnover from £2.5 million to £5m over the next three years.

To help its expansion, WoodBlocX has recently purchased a new storage and distribution facility in Dingwall and also created an EU subsidiary, with a distribution hub in Frankfurt, to serve the whole of the bloc.

Overseas targets

Bosses are targeting deeper penetration into mainland Europe, as well as new markets in the US.

Managing director Henry Blake launched WoodBlocX in 2012, since when it has grown from a small, local firm into an online business with domestic and commercial divisions in the UK and EU.

The company secured the backing of Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Peter Jones in 2012 and in the same year won awards at the Chelsea Flower Show.

In 2016 Mr Blake was supported by HIE to attend a 10-day course in entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he built a global network of contacts and gained new skills to build on his fledgling company’s early success.

Mr Blake said the new investment would make the business more efficient and “provide the tools needed” for its continued expansion.

He added: “It’s great to have secured support from HIE – this will enable us to move swiftly forward with our growth strategy.

“It will also enable us to increase our contribution to the local economy and provide more high-quality employment opportunities, which is an area that we are incredibly passionate about.”

WoodBlocX on Dragons’ Den

Juan Paulo Rodriguez, an account manager with HIE’s Inner Moray Firth team, said: “This is a fantastic project and a great example of a dynamic Highland manufacturing firm pursuing its growth ambitions through innovation and automation.

“It’s also brilliant news for Dingwall and the wider local economy, particularly in relation to the creation of new jobs at the new facility.

“We are delighted to be able to provide support and we look forward to seeing the new facility take shape.”

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