Inspiring Growth: From Teesside to Texas – export success powers global growth
20th May, 2021
Ward Hadaway has once again partnered with The Journal for the new series of ‘Inspiring Growth’ articles, shining a light on those businesses leading the way in the region.
This week, Wayne Spriggs, Founder and CEO at Lusso Stone shares his story, alongside Colin Hewitt, Head of Commercial at Ward Hadaway. Teesside-based Lusso Stone is an award-winning manufacturer of high-end bathroom products.
“I remember thinking, I only have £10,000 to make this work,” says Wayne Spriggs, Founder and CEO of Lusso Stone, a leading luxurious bathroom business based in Stockton in Teesside. “A 10k overdraft, no investor support but a strong belief that there was a genuine demand for the kind of bespoke, high end bathroom products we provide.
“Before Lusso, I was a property developer and I really struggled to find deluxe bathroom products that didn’t break the bank. I started doing my own designs, creating something that I felt was missing. I set up a website and when my initial designs started selling, I took my biggest risk. I ordered a container of 38 baths using the 10k overdraft as a deposit towards the order. At that point, everything was on the line.”
It was a risk, and a leap of faith, that has certainly paid off. Seven years later, Lusso Stone boasts a £30million turnover with 18 employees based at their Stockton headquarters and is recognised by the coveted Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the UK.
The secret? An unwavering passion, strong resolve and a product that meets a genuine demand. The entire Lusso Stone range, which includes baths, basins, toilets and showers, is completely designed in house. The Lusso brand is strong and offers a highly bespoke, unique product in a competitive global market.
And global is exactly where Spriggs wants to take Lusso Stone. In 2019, he made a key decision in hiring a managing director, Mike Manders, to enable growth and, importantly, power export success.
“The business is growing at a rapid pace, particularly in the US and the Nordic countries, specifically Iceland,” explains Spriggs. “I couldn’t do it all – work with the design team on our products, manage operations whether that’s with our employees, customers or supply chain partners and run the business too. Effectively, I needed to establish a senior leadership team and with Mike on board, as well as our operations manager, that’s what I’ve done. They’ve already made a huge impact, revolutionising the business from an operational and commercial perspective by establishing the kind of infrastructure we need.”
With a customer base of nearly 60,000 that’s growing daily, Spriggs is firmly focused on becoming a key exporter to the US and Europe. Export sales have grown by 160% in the last year. Lusso Stone will establish its first international base in Colorado later this year. They already have an established stateside customer base, with a particularly prominent customer base in New York, Los Angeles and Texas.
Colin Hewitt, who works with several fast-growing, innovative North East exporters, believes Lusso Stone raises the bar when it comes to homegrown talent, creating an internationally renowned brand enjoying incredible export success.
Hewitt said: “Lusso Stone has achieved phenomenal growth despite being just seven years old. We’ve supported their development every step of the way from helping them to overcome startup challenges to supporting their larger business needs as one of the UK’s leading bathroom manufacturing exporters.
“The next phase of growth for Wayne and his team now lies in setting up shop in the US. Ward Hadaway will continue to support the business by helping them to understand international trading laws and jurisdiction and provide specialist high-growth export advice to best mitigate risk and protect their bottom line. It’s an exciting time for the business and we’re looking forward to being part of the next stage of their exciting journey.”
Spriggs concludes: “In our first year of trading, we achieved sales of £51,000. Times were tough, I faced huge challenges financially and the hours I worked were relentless. I remember thinking at one point that I might need to admit defeat. However, despite the obstacles I faced I stayed strong, determined and focused on what I truly believed and still believe now – that one day Lusso would be a successful international brand.
“If I’ve learnt anything along the way, it’s that dedication and a genuine commitment to achieving what you want pays dividends. For anyone starting in business, my advice is to be mindful that the easy path to success doesn’t exist, it’s the route with the most resistance that does give the best rewards.”
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