Crane firm’s lesson in how to lift the economy

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is shown around the Street Crane factory, Chapel
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is shown around the Street Crane factory, Chapel
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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has held up a Peak firm as the inspiration for a resurgence in British exporting which he hopes to nurture with new incentives.

Street Crane in Chapel-en-le-Frith has full order books thanks to a skilful blend of innovative design and partnerships worldwide which turn potential allies into customers.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and MP Andrew Bingham with Street crane chairman Martin Street

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and MP Andrew Bingham with Street crane chairman Martin Street

The firm has its cranes installed everywhere from Camp Bastion in Afghanistan to luxury yacht makers.

Ten per cent of it workforce are engaged in designing new products, and where it is too expensive to export the heaviest part of Street Crane, it goes into partnership with foreign firms who use Chapel-designed hi-tech components at the heart of their own cranes.

And over the last four years, Street Crane has invested a figure equivalent to 70 per cent of their pre-tax profits into new product development, £750,000 in extending and remodelling the factory and building a new 20,000 square foot facility to provide more manufacturing space.

Mr Osborne, who used the visit to Street on Friday to announce the Treasury’s new lending scheme aimed at supporting businesses that want to expand and families aspiring to own their own home, said Street Crane was typical of the kind of small to medium sized “Mittlestand” firm which was the powerhouse of the German economy.

Cranes nearing completion at the Street Crane factory, Chapel

Cranes nearing completion at the Street Crane factory, Chapel

Echoing what he told the Advertiser during a visit to Ferodo before the last election about wanting a “nuts and bolts economy” independent of the City of London and banking, Mr Osborne said: “This gives me great confidence that these small to medium-sized businesses are the way forward for Britain’s future.

“We are helping people to export more around the world. British business needs to look further afield - China, Africa and the Middle East. We have extended the support we give to British exporters.”

Mr Osborne also wants to use education to give youngsters more opportunities – and firms like Street Crane the kind of workforce it needs.

“Unemployment is too high and we need more apprentices,” he said. “They (Street Crane) are in the business of hiring people, and they are looking for people with the right qualifications. A firm like this shouldn’t be having to cast its net so wide to find people.”

And he praised High Peak MP Andrew Bingham, who had organised the visit and also a seminar in September to get more Peak firms exporting: “Andrew is an excellent local MP who is trying to do something about getting more people exporting from the High Peak.”

Mr Bingham said: “There is still a premium to ‘Made in Britain.’ I’m delighted that the Chancellor chose to come to the High Peak to announce the new lending scheme, which I hope will give a real boost to small and medium-sizes businesses across the UK, as well as here in the High Peak.

“A common theme across the High Peak is a lack of available finance, so I’m very pleased the Government are looking to address that.”

Chris Lindley-Smith, Sales Director at Street Crane, said: “The announcement made by the Chancellor today is excellent news for small to medium manufacturing businesses which should have a very strong positive effect on our home market sales.”

The firm was started by ex-Spitfire pilot Peter Street in 1946. His son Martin is now Chairman, with a majority shareholding and strong commitment to manufacturing in the UK.