We are delighted to announce that Vision Support Services has been named Business of the Year 2016 at the E3 Business Awards, which were held on 3rd June at the Macron Stadium in Bolton. This award reflects a momentous and rewarding year for the Vision group.
Acceptance speech video >>
We saw off some intense competition from talented businesses across the North West and are extremely proud to be named Business of the Year 2016. Laurie Thomas, our MD said:
“It’s been a really demanding but rewarding year and this award is testament to the hard work from each and every member of staff. Words can not describe the pride I feel for the growing Vision team.”
“Over the last year, we have restructured our entire business to allow room for more growth, with a core focus on international expansion. We united three historic businesses into our company to become one global giant, setting the standard. These businesses have now become Vision’s product brands, each targeting specific market sectors with luxury, performance and specialist textile products.”
When asked why he thinks Vision won the award, Laurie continued: “I think it’s because of our unique position in the marketplace, as a textiles supplier we strategically target laundries, hospitality, healthcare and retail markets with innovative products. Over the last year, we have worked hard to really fine tune this proposition which I think is reflected in our new business structure and our new product brands.
“Furthermore, our global network of operations really sets us aside from any of our competitors, with employees on the ground in key sourcing regions. We have over 50 approved manufacturing partners and more than 20 global distributors which ensures our products are consistent in quality and competitive in price.”
View our finalists’ video >>
Vision Support Services currently supplies quality hotel linen to the UK’s top five biggest hotel chains, as well as renowned global hospitality clients such as The Atlantis Palm, Dubai and Raffles Hotel, Singapore. Our retail arm is responsible for supplying luxury textile products to the likes of John Lewis, Mamas and Papas, Aldi and Jashanmal, Dubai.
12 Months of Vision Support Services
Over the last year, we have integrated three historic businesses into our operations – Hilden, Liddell and Whitakers, as well as restructuring our entire business model, streamlining our unique proposition and achieving high growth targets, including over 60% international growth.
Uniting our brands
In 2005 when Vision Support Services was created our aim was to bring together struggling textile merchants in the Lancashire area and breathe a new lease of life into these. Our aim has more than been accomplished. Up until last year, these businesses were still operating fairly separate of each other – to grow, we needed to first sort out our internal strategy before our external strategy could be communicated.
Over the last 12 months, we have worked hard with our ‘One Vision’ campaign to become one company. We have completely restructured our internal operations, all our employees now work for Vision and offer products through our key product brands – Liddell, our luxury range of products, Hilden, our performance range of products, and Whitakers, our specialist range of products.
We also developed our Healthcare division to promote our interior design offering for care homes and social housing groups across the UK. This specialist arm of the Vision group offers dementia care design services, bespoke interior services, new build fit out and refurbishment and replenishment for core public and private sector care groups.
Uniting our brands and restructuring our company in this way has allowed us to streamline our market offering and has made our business proposition easier for clients to understand.
Creating new relationships
Towards the end of 2015 Vision Support Services entered a partnership with Riegel Linen, a US distributor to expand in the North American market. Our new relationship with Riegel is already proving fruitful in our US expansion. Over the last year, we have also welcomed some huge clients to the Vision group, as well as working to satisfy existing customers – which includes some of the world’s major hotel chains, retailers and healthcare establishments.Uniting our brands and restructuring our company in this way has allowed us to streamline our market offering and has made our business proposition easier for clients to understand.
Developing new products
This year we have launched a number of new innovative ranges that cater to emerging trends and market needs. Over the last few years, we have seen an increasing need for easy to launder fabrics that are not only long-lasting and durable but are also extremely cost-effective. More recently, we have also seen an increase in demand for luxury products and alternative designs.
In February, we launched our Riegel Premier table linen range which is a product that has been taking the US laundry and hotel markets by storm, as a result of our new relationship with Riegel Linen. The reason this product is so revolutionary stateside is not only because it’s inexpensive, but also because of its enhanced durability and long-lasting properties which haven’t yet been seen in a table linen product at this price.
Most recently, we have launched our new Liddell Monte Cristo bed linen range in direct response to market changes. This is a beautiful bed linen collection that has been tested rigorously to meet the standards of durability now expected and wanted by laundries and housekeepers. This 200 thread count, 100% cotton plain range launders beautifully from the first wash resulting in a perfectly presented, crisp and crease-free finish. This range has come about as a result of a large amount of product development and research and ticks all the boxes for comfort, care and durability. We are sure this new range will revolutionise the market.
In addition to this, we are soon to be launching our brand new Liddell bespoke bed linen ranges. This is again in response to emerging trends in the market, with hotels now requesting and looking for white bed linen with a subtle difference. We have created a number of bespoke fabrics which include alternative stripes, checks and jacquard designs as part of our new bespoke, white bed linen range. This way, hotels can still keep the crispness and freshness as associated with white linen but add a new texture to the bed.
Our new retail strategy has also seen us launch products over the last year into the likes of John Lewis (UK) Jashanmal, Dubai, Takashimaya, Singapore and Lane Crawford, Hong Kong.
Building our workforce
Our restructuring not only meant a new business proposition but also a new culture, new jobs, new promotions and in some areas, new management. Just recently we promoted our UK Sales Manager Victoria Oracz to Sales Director of our Laundry Division. In April, we further expanded our Marketing team, bringing in a new level of management and promoting two members of the team.
During the summer of 2015, we also moved into a new, larger warehouse located on the same business park as our head office in Blackburn. This new warehouse saw a new management restructure, again with new promotions and the creation of ‘team leader’ positions, and the recruitment of numerous new positions to manage the workload and shift strategy.
Lastly over the last 12 months, we have also launched the Vision Training Academy; a programme that focuses on recruiting young people in trainee roles from the Blackburn area and giving them the skills and training they need to grow and lead in a professional environment. All members of the Vision Training Academy have gone on to achieve full-time positions within our business.
About the E3 Business Awards
The E3 Business Awards are a North West based regional awards programme, seeking to recognise the region’s talented entrepreneurs and innovators. A multicultural awards scheme, the main aim is to find those businesses investing in growth, creating new jobs and demonstrating their faith in the next generation.
Speaking on behalf of 1 Events Media, which hosts and organises the awards, Managing Director Mubarak Chati said: “Vision Support Services should be very proud of itself. In 2016, the E3 Business Awards attracted the highest number of entries – and probably the highest calibre of entries – that our judges had ever seen. Winning against such impressive competition really means something.
“As the host of the Awards, we were left in no doubt that the North West is home to some huge talent. Companies, social enterprises and individual entrepreneurs are doing great things for the region’s economy, its people and its communities. Vision Support Services is a great example of that and I’m delighted that the awards are helping it to achieve the recognition it deserves.”