Month: September 2018

FREE FROM GLUTEN BUT NOT FROM AWARDS AS WILDCRAFT BAKES ITS WAY TO SUCCESS

Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery, run by entrepreneurs Mina Allsopp and Sam Havis, is celebrating after securing three national FreeFrom Food Awards which encourage innovation and celebrate excellence in the freefrom food industry

The bakery won a Gold Award for the Sprouted Buckwheat Sourdough Loaf, Silver for the Brioche, and Overall Winner for Best Product from a new start-up.

This success, which comes just 18 months after the partnership decided to work together, is in no small part thanks to the Business Growth Collective and Leadership Event run by Leeds Trinity University, which was funded by AD:VENTURE, the ERDF programme supporting start-ups and young enterprises throughout the Leeds City Region.

Developing a range of products and adding to their many free from gluten concepts meant the Directors increasingly spent more time in the kitchen, and less time working on their business strategy.

It was at this point that Sam started to look for business support and came across the Business Growth Collective and Leadership Events, which are delivered by Andy Gilliland, a former Accountant specialising in early phase business growth who is now Academic Group Leader for Business, Management and Marketing at Leeds Trinity University.

Photography by Morgan O’Driscoll on location at Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery, Leeds.

The Business Growth Collective gave new businesses the chance to share their challenges and work on them collectively. Using the advice and feedback of others, each delegate would then work on their challenge at home to identify suitable and sustainable ways to take their company forward.

Sam found the leadership workshop, delivered by Ian McGregor Brown, a Senior Lecturer in Business at Leeds Trinity University, to be a relevant and timely session which enabled her to better strategically plan for growth.

Sam comments: “A business advisor had made me aware of some of the support that is available for start-up businesses and when I looked into it there was quite a few options, which was great, but I needed something that would be accessible for me and the time I could commit.

“The Business Growth Collective and Leadership events were great. I really liked the idea of talking to others in the same position, sharing experiences and using our collective knowledge to tackle each challenge. It certainly helped to refine my thoughts.”

From the sessions, Sam was relieved to get the confirmation and additional confidence she needed to know that the business was on the right tracks. Tackling the hurdle of how to get out of the bakery to work on the business, the company was able to put in place longer-term plans and has appointed two full-time and two part-time staff.

Andy Gilliland, Academic Group Leader for Business, Management and Marketing at Leeds Trinity University, said: “Hearing about the progress that Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery has made since the sessions is further evidence that we are able to make a real and positive difference to the businesses we engage with. It’s great to hear that this company has taken the advice gleaned from the sessions, put it into practice and is seeing the benefits first-hand. We wish them every success for the future and look forward to tasting some of their delicious products when we next visit.”

Ian Rowe, Director of Business Development and Knowledge Exchange at Leeds Trinity University, said: “We are often asked how we measure success. Hearing stories like this, where a start-up is now a national award-winning business, is all the evidence we need. The sessions give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to put the theory into practice and this approach is proving to be very effective.”

Making this commitment, Mina and Sam can now concentrate on running the business, which has included a renewed focus on raising the profile of the brand and taking the time to submit to national awards.

Sam adds: “Start-up companies can shy away from business events, believing that they know what they are doing, but we are a great example of how this support can help businesses to grow more quickly. We wouldn’t have made the appointments we have without the guidance we took from the Business Growth Collective and Leadership events.

“We would certainly encourage others to take a look and to see if there are any workshops, sessions or longer-term programmes that will support them with their future plans. As an award-winning business, we would certainly say it’s been worth it.”

Following its ongoing success and profile, Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery is now looking for larger industrial premises in Leeds that will allow it to extend its production and consider new routes to market including mail order.

For further details about Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery please visit: https://www.wildcraftbakery.com or for regular updates follow @WildcraftBakery. For details about the AD:VENTURE programme and how it supports start-up and young enterprises throughout the Leeds City Region please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk and for regular updates follow @ADVENTURE_LCR.

SEAMLESS SUCCESS FOR CASTLEFORD CURTAIN MAKERS

SME Grants 2

Nationwide Curtain Makers – recipients of a sizeable grant from ERDF funded programme, AD:VENTURE – celebrated the completion of its new offices and showroom on Wednesday 27th June with a star-studded ribbon cutting ceremony, which saw the likes of famous rugby players and local dignitaries in attendance.

After successfully applying for the full £25,000 AD:VENTURE grant, the Castleford based curtain makers used the funds to facilitate the building of new meeting rooms, offices, reception area and trade showroom.

The company’s rapid growth was also thanks to support from a number of regional support programmes in addition to AD:VENTURE, namely the Leeds City Region LEP, Digital Enterprise and the Manufacturing Growth Programme, which were also instrumental in taking the business forward so quickly.

Now the family-run business has created 28 jobs for the local community, invested in a 5,500 square foot manufacturing facility and is developing its company website.

Kieran Gill and Mike McMeeken of the Castleford Tigers rugby league club cut the ribbon to the sounds of a string duet, which added a fun-filled and uplifting vibe to the proceedings, with celebrations lasting until after 8pm.

Wakefield Councillor for Castleford, Central and Glasshoughton, Richard Forster, said: “I’m here today because I wanted to show support to a business which has managed to transform itself from being a company which has grown from being a small supplier of local retail to an international commercial enterprise.

“This is a fantastic example of how local investment makes a dramatic and tangible difference to smaller businesses, delivering remarkable results for everyone involved. Castleford has a proud history of industrial heritage and Nationwide Curtain Makers have now managed to add a chapter to this.”

Mindir Paul, Business Advisor for AD:VENTURE, adds: “Nationwide Curtain Makers recognises the importance of its staff and works hard to recruit and retain the right people.

SME Grants

“The business has identified that seamstresses are hard to find these days, so they invest directly in local talent which is great news for Castleford as it provides the community with quality, skilled jobs. The grant process took around four to five months to complete but it is now wonderful to see that everything has come together.”

Nationwide Curtain Makers have also recruited staff through the Works Better programme, which helps people who want to secure employment overcome the barriers that are stopping them and is a collaboration of six partners and councils across the Wakefield district.

Nicola Boyd, who co-owns Nationwide Curtain Makers along with her husband Stephen and son James, comments: “This is our first birthday in the modern premises and we couldn’t have asked for a better turn out. We invited over 1,000 people altogether and it looks like most have them are here, which is fantastic. Guests have spent most of the day looking around the workroom seeing how we make curtains, leafing through the pattern books in our new showroom and exploring the different fabrics.

“We have been in the industry for over 20 years and have worked hard to build up our reputation – but we also recognise all of the external help and support we have been given in the form of advice, signposting and grants. This opening event was a great excuse to celebrate our success and send our thanks to everyone who has been a part of our expansion, whilst also raising over £300 for Hearing Dogs for deaf people.”

For further details about AD:VENTURE and the financial and practical support that is available from the programme please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk.