Cumbria Crack

Business support is making a real difference in South Lakeland

New and established businesses are continuing to start up and continue to thrive thanks to a partnership between South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) and Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

Since South Lakeland District Council began funding business support through the Chamber, 322 existing businesses in the district have been supported by the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub and 300 businesses and individuals have been given start-up support, with 87 businesses created.

One hundred and sixty six jobs have been created and a further 169 safeguarded, with an estimated increase in GVA (Gross Value Added – a measure of the value of goods and services regarded as a key indicator of solid economic activity) of £4,601,765.

In the six months up to December, 70 businesses were supported and 35 assisted by the Growth Hub; 73 businesses or individuals supported and 41 assisted through BSUS, with six new businesses formed and seven jobs created.

SLDC’s funding for the continuation of the Growth Hub and Business Start-up Support (BSUS) means that potential new and existing businesses in South Lakeland can access free advice, support, training and a match-funded subsidy for specialist consultancy support. A network of experienced advisors is available with expertise in a wide range of different business areas.

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: “The Growth Hub does excellent work helping businesses in South Lakeland operate more effectively, increase their productivity and maximise profits, as well as providing crucial support to people starting businesses and those in the first three years of trading.

“South Lakeland has a vibrant and varied economy and we at SLDC are committed to putting into practice measures that will help this continue. Supporting the Cumbria Growtrh Hub in this way is a major part of that.

“Successfully starting up and maintaining a business is a huge task and our businesspeople in South Lakeland who are working hard every day to do that deserve our praise and support if they need it.

“Anyone running a business in South Lakeland, or thinking of starting one, should get in touch to find out more about the great support the Growth Hub offers.”

Suzanne Caldwell, deputy chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “South Lakeland has always placed a high priority on supporting and nurturing businesses, which is one of the reasons it has the fastest growing economy in Cumbria.

“We’re delighted that they’re continuing to support the work we do, which means we will be able to assist even more start-ups and growing businesses going forward.”

She added: “We can use SLDC’s contribution as match funding to draw down very significant European funding – more than doubling SLDC’s contribution.”

SLDC’s contribution for the current financial year is £33,000.

Details of the Growth Hub’s services are available on its website – –  or by calling 0844 257 84 50.

Case studies

Financial Management Bureau

Liz Beavis and Roger Jackson, Financial Management Bureau

Roger Jackson, financial planner and manager at Financial Management Bureau (FMB), discusses how the company has developed a strategy for future growth by engaging with Lancaster University Management School through the Cumbria Forum leadership development programme – an ERDF-funded initiative as part of the Growth Hub aimed at growing business and free to eligible Cumbria SMEs.

FMB is a family-run business that has been providing independent financial advice since 1987. The Kendal-based firm focuses mostly on financial planning for individuals, with some corporate work as well.

As Roger Jackson puts it: “It’s about making sure their finances are efficiently aligned with their medium and longer-term goals.”

With a need to preserve its distinctive heritage whilst also moving with the times, FMB was ideally placed to benefit from the Cumbria Forum.

“It has helped us to innovate and develop new offerings,” Roger explains. “Such as a lower cost, more streamlined service that’s designed to appeal to clients of the future. What really prompted this in my mind was the ‘Four Ways to Grow Your Business’ session.

“By pulling our ideas into those boxes and breaking it down, we’ve been able to identify how to respond to changing demographics by getting people into the right mindset: ready to transition from the more streamlined route to full financial planning in the future.”

“The Forum appealed to me straight away because I was aware of the University’s prowess, especially the Management School. There were a couple of people involved who I respected even before I started – like Gerry Johnson, a leading academic in strategic management – and I knew it would be useful just to try to absorb information and knowledge.”

“We have a very close relationship with the Management School,” Roger adds. “We have worked with them on student projects and one of our directors is now an Entrepreneur-in-Residence there. Our MD, who is currently on the Innovation Development Programme, was already familiar with the Cumbria Forum and she thought that because of my dual role it would be good for me.”

It didn’t take long for Roger to appreciate that his fellow delegates were facing similar challenges in their businesses and this helped to foster an invaluable sense of empathy. “It enabled me to understand a lot about other businesses, to share experiences with other managers and to see what they were doing to operate in changing markets.”

If the Cumbria Forum has had a lasting impact on FMB, it has also cemented its links with the Management School and the wider peer network. “I’ve personally referred friends and business associates,” Roger says. “I keep in touch with the other delegates from my cohort and we’ve forged new relationships throughout.”

Marl International

Marl International

When Ulverston-based lighting specialists Marl International were awarded a major contract by Transport for London, their first stop was the Growth Hub.

Such was the size and the short timescale of the £3m deal, the company recognised they needed funding to bring in a top-level consultant to help them. A Growth Hub adviser stepped in to guide Marl through the funding application procedure and ensure the right consultant was appointed.

“The contract represented a huge step-up for Marl, involving the recruitment of 20 additional staff and the reconfiguring of their existing factory lay-out to incorporate a new production line. They were under a lot of pressure, so it was the job of the Growth Hub to make things easier for them.”

The first step was to apply for a £2,000 grant under the Growth Hub Subsidy Scheme which would go towards the £5,000 costs of bringing in consultant Paul Myerscough of PRM Business Transitions.

His specialist skills would be vital to the project, so now it was a case of securing the subsidy. “With something like this, it’s often the case that businesses assume it’s going to be a complex and time-consuming process – but in fact it is designed to be as simple as possible and within a week it had been approved.”

He also drew in Cumbria Manufacturing Service, arranging a co-ordinated package of support to address Marl’s needs.

Cumbria Manufacturing Service offers eligible SMEs an initial review to help identify barriers to growth, and then works with them to identify a suitable consultant to deliver a solution, with grant support for that solution to enable growth.

Marl were able to secure a grant of £3,000 towards the expected project costs of £10,000 for ancillaries, such as patents and intellectual property, design, training, quality and standards, finance, IT/software, sales and marketing strategy and operational excellence and efficiency.

Adrian Rawlinson, managing director of Marl, says: “The Growth Hub was very responsive and dealt with the application very quickly. The funding was appreciated and important because it helped us enhance some of the internal project management systems and processes.

“It definitely made a difference and contributed to expansion of capability, which now includes an in-house capability to bid and manage design and manufacturing contracts on a larger scale than previously undertaken.”

The Create Escape (Cumbria) Ltd

Deborah Clark and Angela Favell, The Create Escape (Cumbria) Ltd

The Create Escape (Cumbria) Ltd is a brand-new business in the district. Based in a picturesque farmhouse in Hale, it provides people with the opportunity to “escape the everyday” with cookery and creative experiences, led by business partners Angela Favell and Deborah Clark and a talented team of Cumbrian experts who lead workshops on a wide range of topics from photography to felting and ceramics to somatic exercise.

Angela’s journey to Hale started with the BBC’s Escape to the Country, with Angela on TV vowing to never leave her “forever home” – but all that was to change. Through a chance conversation, she discovered that the farmhouse next door was up for sale and immediately realised that this would be the perfect venue to make a dream become a reality.

The business partners met five years ago when, through the Growth Hub’s Business Start-Up Scheme when Angela was appointed as Deborah’s business start-up advisor. The two instantly bonded over their love of food and cookery, and a lasting friendship developed.

While running their own successful businesses, they kept coming back to their dream of running their own cookery school and creative centre and finally at the beginning of June, the doors were opened to their first visitors, or ‘Escapees’ as they are called.

The first workshops – Thai cookery, aromatherapy products and creative writing – have all been a great success with the first ‘Escapees’ delighted by the level of care and detail put into making each day as relaxing and indulgent as possible. Between sessions, the beautiful gardens with their stunning views provide a tranquil setting for further relaxation.

The Cartmel Spirit Company – video case study

Edmund Wood, The Cartmel Spirit Company

The Cartmel Spirit Company has just launched its first product, Belgrove Hazelnut Rum.

It’s a pure demerera rum aimed at high-end restaurants, cocktail bars and retailers, named after William Belgrove, the 18th century godfather of premium rums.

Edmund Wood started the business with help from Cumbria Business Growth Hub.

This is his story:

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