Scotland’s top football kit supplier is set to score continued double digit growth with a £2 million investment which includes signing a seven strong team of robots.
Dundee-based Direct Soccer, which has a turnover of £4m, has also tripled its warehouse footprint to 26,000 sq ft, while the new robotics system brings a reduction in space requirement of 75%.
The move is set to safeguard the jobs of the firm’s 22 employees and generate continued growth for the family-owned business which has been trading since 1997.
Direct Soccer director Joyce Gibson said the investment, which includes a six-figure funding package from the Bank of Scotland, is the next stage in the firm’s policy of continuous investment in technology.
She said: “We are early adopters of technology and have been online since 2002.
“We were building the warehouse extension and looked at the layout and fitting out the new space and the racking system we had.
“It was fairly automated, but the building height is quite high which meant there is a lot of space we were not using.
“This led us to research what was available and came across an automated robotic solution from a Norwegian company.
“They had a lot of installations in Scandinavian countries, but we are the first auto store in Scotland.
“The system means we can get the same amount of stock in a quarter of the footprint, but it also ensures it keeps lead times down for our customers.
“We have peak times throughout the year, when business can increase by three or four times and it’s important that we can deliver very quickly to our customers.”
The robots mean orders can be picked six times faster than previous levels, combined with high levels of accuracy.
The machines operate from a grid system, allowing for future expansion without disruption to the business.
Based at West Pitkerro Industrial Estate, Direct Soccer works with brands such as Nike, Adidas and Mitre.
Ms Gibson said the sports brands had strict criteria in relation to customer service and how their products are promoted.
She said the investment would provide a platform to maintain relationships with the key partners as the company continued to expand.
“It puts us in strong position with brands which are important in the team wear market,” she added.
“We have seen continued double-digit growth and a consistent increase in staff numbers over the years and we aim to continue this.
“Although, future jobs might be more in the IT sector or print and embroidery for the personalisation aspects of the business.”
Moira Robertson, relationship manager at Bank of Scotland which helped fund the project, said: “Direct Soccer is a great example of a business cleverly investing in technology to support future growth.
“At Bank of Scotland, we’ve been supporting firms like Direct Soccer throughout the last few months so it’s great to see the focus beginning to go beyond recovery and towards future investment.”
Direct Soccer started locally with retail sports shops, but moved to their current premises in 2010.
The business serves grassroots clubs as well as individual customers throughout the UK.