News Archive

13 March 2012

British Thornton wins contract in Brunei

Chamber helps bring £500,000 contract to fruition for school supplies business

Patience and persistence has paid off for a school and laboratory furniture maker which is completing its first major export order.

And Keighley-based British Thornton, which is delivering £500,000 of goods to a school in Brunei, on the island of Borneo in South-East Asia, has used the expertise of trade specialists at Chamber International in Bradford to bring the deal to fruition.

Deliveries by British Thornton, which employs 180 people, are going ahead after a process which has taken three years from initial inquiry in January, 2009.

British Thornton operations director Ben Rowlands said the firm received an initial approach from the technology teacher of Jerudong International School to supply equipment for a new sixth form centre.

He said: “The headmaster, who was British and had a holiday home here, came over and we took him round our sites. It developed from there with us assisting with the furniture design consultancy for there new centre.

Brunei Container

Our Photograph shows David Alexander, Production Director with British Thornton (front) and Roy Broadhead of Chamber International in a container loaded for Brunei.

We sent out two guys to do the design work and provided the client with a budget. But it was a slow burn as we finalised the designs in April last year in partnership with the architects.

Although we’ve done some small scale overseas business before, this is the first major export work we’ve done and we view it as a flagship project. We’re sending out installation supervisor to the country in April to train the installation teams and there will be two further visits after that with completion due in June."

The first of the two containers of equipment for the school’s four science laboratories were dispatched earlier this month and will be followed by 30 more over the next two months.

Production director David Alexander said: “We mainly manufacture for the education sector refurbishing schools in Bradford but we also do work for industrial labs, the pharmaceutical industry and universities.”


Roy Broadhead, of Chamber International, said the deal had involved once of the biggest back office operations undertaken by the organisation, whose specialists have co-ordinated everything from the initial risk assessment to overseeing the loading of the shipping containers and dealing with payment from the bank.

Mr Broadhead, who led the project team handling the British Thornton business, said: “It may all have been a protracted business for this Yorkshire manufacturer but with solid success in the global market place now secured it has opened up new vistas for future sales.”