A CROSS Hills company has reported a strong start to the year.

Airedale Chemical says there was a “promising” increase in sales during January compared to the same period last year, following a refocussing by the firm.

The company has shifted its emphasis from high-volume manufacturing to more speciality products.

And there is optimism for the months ahead.

Last year ended on a high, with investment in a soon-to-be-launched new website, a 20-strong fleet rebrand and a modernised production facility – with 30 per cent more capacity.

Airedale Chemical has also been boosted with the emergence of a post-Brexit market for UK-manufactured biocides – an area which has been key since the outbreak of the pandemic – and the group’s ongoing acquisition strategy, with its latest purchase being metal surface treatment specialist Alutech.

Daniel Marr, group chief commercial officer with Airedale Chemical, said: “Despite a challenging year for most sectors, we demonstrated how resilient the company is. We were able to move quickly into bulk hand sanitiser distribution at the start of lockdown, which meant we were able to meet our sales targets last year.

“Our strategy for moving forward will involve the addition of higher-value-added products to our offering, performing a gradual shift from high-volume commodity chemicals towards more speciality solutions.

“We will be taking baby steps and exercising caution in these uncertain times but we are confident that by working with manufacturers on strategic product distribution deals, we will find the key growth we need.

“We have already made significant investment in the last couple of months throughout the business, which is indicative of our optimism for the future.

“In a non-pandemic climate our growth would undoubtedly have been much more progressive, but we are grateful to have faired so well in such difficult circumstances and are feeling extremely positive.”

He added that the company was well known for its work in the community and that it was making plans to re-engage with the schools and colleges it has developed links with over the years.

“We have also engaged regularly with community groups and campaigns in the surrounding parishes and we intend to continue supporting those organisations throughout 2021,” he said.