Chief executive Dr Ron Whittaker described 2005 as a year of major success for SATRA at the annual general meeting. SATRA’s overall annual income exceeded £8 million for the first time in 2005 and led chief executive Dr Ron Whittaker to identify it as their most successful year yet.

Particularly pleasing, he felt, was the 10% increase in sales of products and services to members and clients, emphasising that SATRA are producing exactly what is required by their customers in 70 countries.

Despite continuing moves to global resourcing and the need for products to be tested at source, there were major increases in the use of SATRA’s footwear testing and chemical analytical services. The latter partly reflects the need for manufacturers and suppliers to meet the increases in legislation surrounding hazardous substances in products.

‘It is pleasing’, added Dr Whittaker, ‘that members prefer to rely on the expertise of our highly trained technical staff and international authority of a SATRA authored report over independent test laboratories. This success reflects major internal improvements at SATRA to ensure that we produce fast response, competitively priced but highly authoritative test reports to members.’

Record income and surplus

SATRA’s total income for 2005 of £8.3 million was a record and 8% above the level reached in 2004. This achievement maintained the technology centre’s remarkable record over almost 40 years of continually increasing income year-on-year – and not once running a deficit on the revenue account. Particularly pleasing was that membership subscription income exceeded £2 million for the third consecutive year. Sara now have more than 1,600 members in 70 countries.

Through the improved efficiency gained with SATRA’s modern laboratory and office facilities at Wyndham Way, direct cost increases were kept at 3% which allowed the technology centre to record a surplus on the revenue account of £500,000 – which was almost three times greater than that achieved in 2004.

As a non-profit organisation run to improve the competitiveness of member companies, any surplus generated by SATRA is invested back into the business. The surplus in 2005 was very timely as the technology centre is embarking on further expansion to its Wyndham Way site.

State-of-the-art laboratory complex

With the expansion of business over the past 12 months, SATRA are now fully utilising their 26,000 sq ft central extension built in 2004. A modern footwear fitting laboratory has been incorporated together with expansion of the safety product, furniture and floor coverings laboratories.

Dr Whittaker also confirmed that SATRA’s new state-of-the-art footwear test facility would be opened at the Wyndham Way site during the summer. A 4,000 sq ft fully temperature and humidity controlled laboratory had been built on a new mezzanine floor and the operation would be transferred from the Rockingham Road site.

New test equipment was being installed, some of which was only available in the SATRA laboratories, to ensure that the facility could deal with planned growth and peaks in demand, and to provide an excellent service to member companies. He confirmed that before the end of 2006, all of SATRA’s activities, apart from cleaning technology, would be based at Wyndham Way.

In order to meet the planned expansion of SATRA’s activities in the next five years, detailed plans have been drawn up for a 20,000 sq ft fourth and final phase of the Wyndham Way development. The main construction is likely to take place in 2007.

Communication with members

Since September 2005, SATRA have published SATRA Bulletin International, their monthly, exclusive to members publication. As well as the informative technical pages which have always been a key service, the publication has also included information on member companies and general news stories about SATRA and the industry in general.

Over the past year, SATRA have particularly featured aspects about shoe manufacture in China and the Far East and how it differs from conventional western manufacture. Members have also commented on the usefulness of the country profiles.

SATRA also publish the monthly Spotlight magazine for members and companies in the furniture, fabric care, safety product and floor coverings industries.

SATRA staff visit members in all parts of the world and exhibit at several international and country exhibitions each year. During the next 12 months, the successful roadshows which are run in three venues in the USA each year will also be taken to other countries.

Increased activity in China

China produces almost 70% of the world’s footwear. It is therefore important the fact is reflected in SATRA’ s global activities.

Members working or located in the Far East have made good use of our China representative office in Dongguan City run by Vivien Hsieh. The office is able to receive and mail samples for testing at SATRA and liaise with experts on their visits to China.

SATRA took a further step forward in 2005 by setting up a China Advisory Board. It is composed of key member representatives of the Chinese footwear industry and in its meetings has already provided valuable information by the company’s Far East membership.