Blacksmith forges a bright future with help from Growth Hub

Traditional blacksmith firm Nigel Tyas Ironwork has seen a significant uplift in new orders and customers after transforming its approach to sales and marketing with help from the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

The Barnsley-based company was founded in 2000 by Ironworker Nigel Tyas and his wife Elizabeth Stocker. Nigel has more than 40 years’ experience of metalworking in South Yorkshire and his products, which include lights, lamps, chandeliers, curtain poles and fireside irons, have been seen on TV shows, including Game of Thrones and Emmerdale.

Nigel and Elizabeth approached the Growth Hub for advice on finding new ways to sell and market their beautiful wrought iron products.

Business Growth Specialist Andy Sorsby sat down with Nigel and Elizabeth and helped them develop a marketing plan which identified key priority areas which could help them grow their business.

Further in-depth analysis of the business and an assessment of future options was carried out by a Sheffield-based sales and marketing consultancy – with 50 per cent of the cost funded via the Growth Hub’s Enhancement Project.

The firm has since gone on to recruit a part-time marketing professional to put the sales and marketing plans into action. A renewed focus on public relations and social media is reaping rewards, as well as attendance at trade shows where the company has shown off its products and the craftsmanship skills of Nigel and his team of blacksmiths.

A new, improved e-commerce website has been built, and the firm is pursuing a growth strategy based on developing its market in ‘off the shelf’, rather than bespoke, products. Sales are up nearly 10 per cent in the last year.

Next steps for the company will be to look at how it manages its work programme, including ordering and admin through to manufacture in the workshop and shipping and distribution. The aim is to purchase specialist software to streamline the process and reduce duplication so the team are better equipped to meet the expected uplift in customer demand. With support from the Growth Hub it’s hoped a grant can be obtained from the Superfast South Yorkshire project to fund this next stage of development.

Elizabeth Stocker said: “The business is growing strongly at the moment and I would attribute a lot of that to the support we’ve been able to obtain via the Growth Hub. It’s helped us to do things we wouldn’t have been able to do because the costs were prohibitive. To be able to access such high quality advice and know how has been transformative – not only from a funding point of view but by putting us in touch with the right people with the right skills and experience to help us.

“For businesses based on skilled craftsmanship it can be difficult sometimes to make the business side of things work. A few years ago we felt we had plateaued a little and were struggling to take things to the next level. We had this hugely valuable skill and a great product – but it was hard turning that into a business growth. With the Growth Hub’s help we are putting the business on a more sustainable footing and ensuring we have everything in place to continue growing.”

Find out more about Nigel Tyas Ironwork.

The Sheffield City Region Growth Hub works with businesses large and small to achieve their goals. If your business is based in the Sheffield City Region and is looking to grow, contact the Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or send an email.

The Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Enhancement Project is receiving up to £2.7m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit