Brand marketing specialist Wild Thang has invested more than £2m in a transformation of its Liverpool city region HQ and now set to expand and take on more staff. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool city region brand marketing firm Wild Thang said staffing numbers could almost double over the next couple of years as it seeks to capitalise on its £2m transformation programme.
Based in Derby Road in Bootle, close to the docklands, Wild Thang was launched 20 years ago with a £1,500 Prince’s Trust grant. Now it employs 33 people at its headquarters and manufacturing facility.
It manufactures and supplies a full range of branded marketing materials. Its blue-chip clients have included Sky Bet, Paddy Power, Wembley Stadium and Liverpool and Everton football clubs.
In 2019 it embarked on a £2m transformation of its premises. That was due to complete in 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic severely delayed the project. The handover finally took place in June with the scheme delivered by building firm Frank Rogers and architects K2.
Managing director and founder Andrew Dwerryhouse said, in common with many businesses, Wild Thang initially took a big hit from the pandemic. He explained: “In the first few weeks we realised most of our clients would be shutting down their activity and our sales fell off a cliff.”
A number of Wild Thang staff were furloughed or sent to work from home and Andrew and his manufacturing staff produced t-shirts with messages of support for NHS workers and proceeds from the sales went to NHS charities.
However, by June the company was starting to see business return again. In June it began producing a new range of branded protection merchandise including face masks and snoods, responding to client demand.
Such was the return of confidence by the end of the year that the company invested a further £120,000 in new technology that will allow it to print complex designs on fabrics to meet the fast-changing demands of its customers.
Andrew added: “Following the end of the financial year in April we looked at our figures and we were only down in terms of revenue over the previous 12 months by around 15%, which I think is astonishing when you consider how bad things were last year.
“We have a fantastic team here and, over the past 18 months we have worked hard to ensure they have worked in as safe an environment as possible. Everyone is now back, both in the office, and in the manufacturing facility and we are all looking forward to taking Wild Thang to the next level.
“Investing more than £2m into an SME over the past 12 months may look like a risk. And it was. But we have confidence in what we are doing here and believe its critical to invest if you want to grow and capitalise on the opportunities as we enter the post-pandemic recovery phase.”
In the next few weeks Wild Thang will add another two people to its manufacturing team but Andrew says the company now has expansion plans over the next couple of years which could see headcount grow to 60 people.
“Brexit was also a big challenge as we export marketing materials to EU countries for our clients. We have become experts at the administration and paperwork needed to make sure our merchandise gets sent to where it needs to be.
“Liverpool Chamber of Commerce gave us loads of help with that and they are now going to use us as an example of best practice.
“Its an incredible feeling now to see the transformation of the building completed. We have created a lighter environment that our team loves and it is already boosting morale and productivity. Everyone is now totally back in the groove. We will be having a launch event in the next few weeks.
“In the past few weeks we have seen an upturn in business due to the European Football Championships with a high demand for branded clothing, merchandise and print. We now have real momentum and I’m more excited about the future of the business than ever before.
“We have faced a lot of challenges over the past year. It has been mentally exhausting at times, I want to personally thank our amazing senior team who worked tirelessly throughout to make sure we not only survived but strived ”