Manufacturer pivots into pod

Posted by on 20 Apr 2021

Image: Manufacturer pivots into pod

A Rochdale manufacturer is hoping to take advantage of the growth in staycation holidays by building luxury sleeping pods. Heywood-based UKTTF, which stands for UK Table Tops and Furniture, specialises in making bespoke table tops for restaurants, pubs and hotels.

However when the pandemic hit the hospitality sector the seven-year-old business pivoted into making outdoor drinking pods for pubs and exclusive sleeping pods for the holiday sector. The outdoor pods for pubs and social gatherings cost as little as £650 while the big double glazed sleeping pods, complete with a toilet and wash basin, retail at between £9,000 to £40,000 depending on the specification.

Director Gary Whitley said it was still early days for the pods but after a challenging 12 months for the business things were looking up. He explained: “We’re very dependent on the hospitality industry, which has been badly hit by Covid and the various lockdowns.

“We had orders in but we either couldn’t get the supplies in because our supply chain had been furloughed or we weren’t allowed into premises because of concerns over Covid.” As a result UKTTF furloughed most of their 12 staff and decided to look for other opportunities, which is when they hit on the idea of pods Mr Whitley said: “We’re used to kitting out hotel rooms and are specialists in laminate and making surfaces that are easy to clean.

“I go to a lot of campsites and before Covid I saw a pod and started work on designing our own range. During lockdown we revisited it and created a prototype and it went from there.” He said the sleeping pods come in sections so can easily be increased in size. “Because of Covid the UK staycation market has really taken off and it’s something we’re hoping to capitalise on,” said Mr Whitley. “Our sleeping pods are 8ft wide by 8ft high but can be made as long as you want. The structure is 90 per cent wood but the windows are double glazed and so are very energy efficient.

“The floors are laminated and have been designed so they’re easy to clean. They’re really like a home from home.” He said the £650 outdoor pods for pubs and social gatherings were attracting a lot of interest as the hospitality sector prepares to reopen.

“We have the ability to turn orders around very quickly so there isn’t a long lead time,” said Mr Whitley.

“The pods aren’t permanent structures so we think there will be demand for them as outdoor offices too. “The market has just started to pick up again for the table tops so we’re hoping things return a bit more to normal in 2021.”

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