Coventry engineering firm pipes new life into the world’s Covid-19 response

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A family-run engineering company in Coventry is playing a major role in the UK’s response to Covid-19 after supplying more than 120 miles of medical gas copper pipes in just six months.

Lawton Tubes, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018, switched the majority of its production to cater for unprecedented demand from the NHS and healthcare providers for its copper tubes that are the preferred natural, 100% recyclable, safe means of carrying medical gasses from the plant room to the patient’s bed.

In the UK alone, the firm supplied enough product – laid side by side – to equal that of phase 1 of HS2, whilst also supporting the response of 30 countries across the world.

It has been a whirlwind period for the fourth generation-owned business, which has seen export levels grow from zero to over £13.5m in just over a decade, with long-term auditors Haines Watts helping to manage growth, a family shareholding agreement and provide day-to-day support throughout the pandemic.

Rob Lawton, Business Development Director at Lawton Tubes, commented: “The biggest NHS project by far was the work we did at Nightingale Birmingham, where we successfully supplied 10 miles of our copper tube and thousands of our copper fittings for a massive medical mains gas ring.

“This represented a fantastic effort from all of our staff, with many continuing to work throughout the pandemic and going above and beyond to deliver huge volumes of products on extremely tight timescales.”

He continued: “The same family principles the business was built on continue to be in place and drive our evolution as a company today, a company which is proud of our quality, our customer service and our ability to pivot to meet life in the ‘new normal’.”

Lawton Tubes, which has a second site in Poole, is one of the West Midlands best kept manufacturing success stories, creating a niche for itself in supplying high quality copper tube to clients involved in air conditioning, engineering, plumbing and the medical sector.

Regular investment in new warehousing, equipment and company-wide training has seen it achieve year-on-year growth for the last decade, with turnover touching £155m and a workforce of just over 100.

Throughout its rapid expansion, the firm has been assisted by Haines Watts Chartered Accountants, a partnership that dates back 15 years thanks to the close relationship of the management team and tax partner Terri Halstead.

During that period, she and her team have helped with auditing, tax affairs, accessing R&D tax relief, securing funding for the new warehouse and drafting a family charter that governs the future operation of the company.

Rob went on to add: “We like to work with businesses that share similar philosophies to ourselves and Haines Watts gets ‘what makes us different’ and how important the day-to-day advice and guidance can be in helping us grow.

“Terri and her team are on hand to act as a sounding board and this has been invaluable over the years and will continue to be as we get through the pandemic and, hopefully, make the most of new opportunities when the recovery arrives.”

Terri added her support: “We have worked hard to understand what makes Lawton Tubes different, putting in place a specialist advice package that has underpinned its growth.

“Over the years we have added more and more services, making the management team aware of new financial support opportunities and advising on key issues, the most recent one being access to Government assistance during Covid-19.

“We are very proud of what the family has achieved, especially during the pandemic. It has really stepped up and, in doing so, will undoubtedly have helped save many lives in the process.”

Haines Watts is a top 15 firm of chartered accountants, advising and supporting over 35,000 owner managed businesses and SMEs across the UK.

The Birmingham office is the largest in the West Midlands and covers the Greater Birmingham area and parts of Warwickshire, with four other offices in Wolverhampton, Worcester, Hereford and Tamworth providing support for the rest of the region.

Its expert teams work with companies to understand their business aspirations, giving them access to a host of advisory services that enables owner managers to reach their destination with speed and certainty.

This includes accountancy support, maximising R&D tax credits, raising finance, tax planning, patent box relief, Export VAT planning, strategy advice, talent management and help with succession planning.