Business takes centre stage as it aims to double its UK workforce

Martin Gernon of Centre Stage Uniforms, Cragg Vale Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian
Martin Gernon of Centre Stage Uniforms, Cragg Vale Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian

The owner of a market leading uniform maker and supplier is planning to double his upper Calder Valley workforce over the next three months.

Martin Gernon is managing director of Centre Stage Uniforms, which provides outfits and uniforms for the Salvation Army and brass and military bands across the UK and beyond.

His business is going from strength to strength thanks to a loan he received from the Business Enterprise Fund to maintain the growth of Centre Stage Uniforms, now based at Top Land Country Business Park, Cragg Vale.

He is hoping to achieve an increased turnover of more than £600,000 and profits of £120,000 this year after moving into his new premises thanks to support from BEF, which offers loans and assistance to entrepreneurs who have been turned down by the banks and is supported financially by the European Union.

“My background is in textiles and the business started off in a room in my house in Blackburn,” Mr Gernon said.

“Now we are a market leader and employ three staff here, while the uniforms are produced in China.”

Mr Gernon, who is a lifelong player with and supporter of brass bands, currently plays with and is chairman of the world famous Fairey (Geneva) Band, which will play at the London Legacy concert on Saturday. He hopes to take on three more staff this year.

“I got involved with BEF at a time I needed to move to larger premises. I got no support from banks and took my plans to BEF and they said ‘yes’. That was 18 months ago and without them I don’t know what I would have done,” added Mr Gernon, who also receives mentoring from BEF as part of the agreement.

Meg Heath, BEF deputy fund director, said Centre Stage Uniforms is a prime example of the sort of business needing its help. “The business has a lot of potential, but without the funding for new premises that BEF provided, it would not have been able to move forward,” she said.