Completing the sale of his business on 2nd October 2023 to become the new owner of Signs Express (Central Lancashire), welcoming his second child on 4th October along with taking home the silver award in the Leisure & Hospitality category at the UK Graphic Awards on the same day, Matt Rutlidge had a fantastic end to the year!
Over the next six months, we’re going to be following Matt’s journey as he establishes himself as business owner of Signs Express (Central Lancashire) and puts his strategic plans and developments in action for 2024.
We hear from Matt, “It’s been a whirlwind of a few months I have to admit. After years in the business in various roles (including Centre Manager most recently), when the opportunity arose to purchase the business from outgoing franchisee Ben Hall; whilst it was a huge personal and financial leap, it felt like the next natural step to take. Three and a half months later and I’m loving every minute of it (I’m pleased to say). On a day-to-day basis not a huge amount has changed in terms of my role in the business, I’d say the biggest shift overall is the amount of admin I have to get involved in, with a lot more focus on invoicing, finances, costs, budgeting, forecasts, fuel cards, credit cards, the list goes on!
With an amazing family unit behind me and the most incredible team, I’m thrilled to be able to say that we had a fantastic end to the year sales wise. December was our best month of the quarter (which is typically a quiet month in our industry), with both sales and margins in an upward trajectory, leaving me feeling positive for the year ahead.
December saw us manufacture and install over 2,200 acrylic signs, screw in over 5,000 screws, travel over 2,000 miles, be shortlisted for two awards, have a 4am start and a 12:30am finish, so needless to say, we were definitely ready for a break!
We had a range of fantastic projects including a festive facelift for two 8ft Nutcrackers, two Vimto signs on behalf of Spatial Environments Ltd., a brand launch for Trekker Globel with a striking faux living wall, multiple health and safety sustainable site packs for a number of construction customers, plus we proudly continued our projects with Preston North End and sponsored a match whilst hosting our team Christmas party!
With the highly skilled team we have in place along with our range of equipment and kit, we’re lucky enough to be able to manufacture a lot of our work in-house which allows us to take on large projects while keeping costs low and delivering what often seems like the impossible in terms of deadlines for our customers! We finished the year by manufacturing a huge wayfinding project in-house for St Peters Health Centre on behalf of the Eric Wright Group which was made using completely recyclable acrylic and came with a its own curveballs. Whilst deadlines, sign off, installation access, design changes etc., can often cause issues, we weren’t expecting it to be down to the availability of screws. With the project using a total of 5,000 screws, we found ourselves 1,000 short, leaving the team frantically phoning round to source the extras which obviously turned out not to be a standard stock item. Who knew how hard they’d be to find! Anyway, we got there, we found what we needed and were immensely proud of the end result!
After a well-deserved Christmas break, we’re back with a bang and ready to go with a really strong workbook and some great projects scheduled for January including an array of office projects and illuminated signage.
From a social perspective, up this month, we’ve also got the Signs Express annual Convention, which we’re looking forward to. With over 20 suppliers in attendance, industry seminars, demo’s, award opportunities along with networking with our peers across fellow Signs Express centres (plus with a few drinks!), it’s set to be a great day.
Lastly for this month, we’re also thrilled to be shortlisted for two major industry awards at the 2024 Sign and Wrap Awards being held in late February. As a team we’re shortlisted for the Architectural Film Project award for our work at Preston North End and also rather humbly, I feel immensely proud to be nominated personally for the Industry Champion award. So, watch this space, we’ve got everything crossed!”
A fantastic end to the year for Matt and his team and a great start to 2024 by the sounds of it! We’ll be catching up with Matt in a few weeks’ time to see how their January shaped up and to see if any awards made their way home with them.