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The Business Magazine July 2024
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Shropshire cheese supplier to represent West Midlands in national awards

Craig Humphrey, chief executive at Coventry and Warwickshire growth hub - picture contributed
Craig Humphrey, chief executive at Coventry and Warwickshire growth hub - picture contributed
21 June 2024
Craig Humphrey, chief executive at Coventry and Warwickshire growth hub - picture contributed

Shropshire cheese supplier Bridge Cheese has been presented with a Made Smarter award for the West Midlands and will now represent the region in a national ceremony.

The awards are part of the Made Smarter adoption programme, a government-funded initiative, which offers support to SME manufacturers to help them commit to digitalise, decarbonise and drive growth.

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Bridge Cheese supplies products to the food manufacturing, wholesale and food service sectors and was established in 2018 by managing director Michael Harte and operations director Martin Bowden.

It signed up for the Made Smarter West Midlands programme to improve its technology systems. From a team of five, it now has 80 staff and has extended its premises at Stafford Park 13 in Telford to 25,000 sq ft.

Since 2019, SME manufacturers across the West Midlands have invested over £2.3 million in new technologies, forecasting the creation of almost 1,111 new jobs.

Michael Harte, of Bridge Cheese, said: "The growth we’ve achieved as a business since we started in the first four years had been fantastic but for us to grow further, we needed to focus on data-led decision making.

“Made Smarter has enabled and accelerated our improvement in that area with an investment in new technology.

"The team has also helped us produce a digital roadmap for us, highlighting the steps we need to take over the next three to five years to digitalise. This support will take Bridge Cheese to a whole new level."

Brian Holliday, co-chair of the Made Smarter Commission, added: "The Made Smarter Awards celebrate digital transformation among SME manufacturers, and it is with great pride to see these inaugural awards taking place this year."

He added: "We are looking forward to the expansion of the programme into more regions in 2025.

"This allows us to truly support increasing manufacturing productivity, raising exports through international competitiveness, strengthening UK supply chains and creating new value streams and reducing CO2 emissions."

Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub leads the Made Smarter West Midlands scheme alongside the Growth Hubs in Worcestershire, the Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire, on behalf of Business Growth West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Business and Trade.

Craig Humphrey, the chief executive at Coventry and Warwickshire growth hub, said: "The regional awards evening was a great opportunity to celebrate the successes of businesses who have embraced digital technology and are experiencing its positive benefits on a daily basis."

In the West Midlands, other area winners were D.A.R.L Engineering (Coventry and Warwickshire); Advanced Innovative Engineering (UK) (Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire); Reynolds Blinds (Greater Birmingham and Solihull); Metal Assemblies (The Black Country) and G&O Springs (Worcestershire).

Bridge Cheese and other regional winners from the North West, North East, and Yorkshire and Humber will now progress to the national awards in Liverpool on June 27.


Giles Gwinnett is a writer at The Business Magazine. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and covered a vast array of topics at a range of media settings - in print and online. After his NCTJ newspaper training, he became a reporter in Hampshire before moving to a news agency in Gloucestershire. In recent years, he has been covering the financial markets along with company news for an investor-focused web portal. His many interests include politics, energy and the environment. He lives in Dorset.

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