Harkness Screens is a 91-year-old cinema manufacturer. For five years now, haleys have been engaged with the company for one-off projects.
Mark Ashcroft is CEO of Harkness Screens, having taken on the role in 2013 after time spent working in America.
Harkness are a truly global brand, with facilities in England, Ireland, France, United States, China and India, with Mark hiring haleys to aid with a series of new projects that the company were undertaking.
“As a global organisation and an organisation that has got a series of private equity owners, we’ve historically focussed on our relationship with the likes of PWC, KPMG, EY. This has been from a global tax planning and global audit perspective, and that has been very beneficial for us,” Mark said.
“What we started to see, around four years ago, was a series of new projects that Harkness were assessing; we needed some local and speedy advice, and that is why we engaged with haleys.
“Tim and the team have been very responsive. They are great value for money and they understand that we do have a global auditor and a global tax advisers, but they work with us and it has been helpful beyond belief.”
Whilst Harkness have provided two in every three cinema screens globally, screens are only part of the work that the company does.
Also developing technologies such as apps that optimise an auditorium or the uses of reality capture to decide the best layouts for communal spaces in multiplexes, as well as many others; Harkness have called on haleys to work on the particulars of projects they have been planning.
“Where I have found haleys came into their own, was that Tim and the team didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time asking me to explain our business strategy, they didn’t ask us to provide our business plan and our financial plans; they got on with delivering the advice we requested,” Mark said.
“Where Tim and the team have been able to help us specifically, is that we required advice to get government funding for university R&D projects. We have a new product line that we believe is going to be scalable across our multiple operations. Haleys have been massively helpful in helping us discover the implications of multiple R&D projects in multiple locations.”
Like many in March, the industry in which Harkness operate in was thrown into the dark when lockdown happened. It was only in late August that cinemas began to reopen, with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet charged with the rekindling of the cinema industry.
Whilst Tenet has performed well overall, it has still not reignited the interests of the masses to return to the big screen. The 25th instalment of the James Bond franchise was the industry’s next big hope, but its release has been pushed back again to April of next year.
As this uncertainty has swirled around them, Harkness began to find new ways of using their expertise with PVC and other materials to help cinemas and other businesses that rely on people using their services, to keep them safe, as well as allowing them to resume trading.
Developing a range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including faceshields, aprons, barrier screens and reassigning the uses of other technologies to help kickstart the livelihood of their customers restarting post-lockdown.
Whilst haleys did not undertake any specific Covid-19 projects for Harkness during lockdown, Mark says that the consistent updates from Meadowcroft were excellent guidelines for him and his Chief Financial Officer to work from.
“Our CFO, Patrick Carolan, is based in Dublin and as our relationship with haleys has developed on the science and technology side, Patrick has really got involved with Tim and the team and a particularly big shout out to Martin Cuerden who has stepped up on a number of occasions to aid our finance team in Dublin,” Mark said.
“During the Covid crisis, we have not necessarily engaged with haleys for advice around furlough schemes and such. However, what has been incredibly useful is Tim’s constant communications, the updates he provides over email, both Patrick and I have benefitted from those.
“We’re massively, and I’ll keep using the word massively, grateful for the relationship that we have formed with haleys and we will continue to call on them for advice as we enjoy working with them. They are so massively professional, massively helpful and great value for money.”