The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Hub has provided Stoke-on-Trent-based Assured Packaging Ltd with access to specialist mentoring, helping to increase their sales and leading to the creation of three new jobs at the firm.
Established in 2009, Assured Packaging Ltd manufactures and supplies a wide range of quality packaging items, from bespoke cardboard boxes to bubble wrap and pallet sleeves. Based in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, the company supplies packaging products to individuals and commercial markets.
After managing the production team since the company started, Alan Hughes became the managing director in 2012. Although Alan had unparalleled knowledge of the company’s products and processes, there were aspects of managing the business that he was less familiar with.
Alan, who is pictured with LEP board member Jonathan Dale, explained: “I know pretty much everything there is to know about our products, the production processes, the technical elements. But selling them is an entirely different matter. Sales techniques, marketing strategy, presentation skills; I realised that I would need to brush up on my business strategy to really grow the business.”
Keen to develop their business with support from local connections and networks he contacted the LEP’s Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Business Helpline (0300 111 8002) and was referred to a Growth Hub adviser. The Growth Hub team met with the business and undertook a short diagnostic in order to establish what support was needed. Assured Packaging was provided with a wealth of business advice and support and signposted to the Let’s Do Mentoring scheme. The Let’s Do Mentoring scheme is managed by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, and offers SMEs in Staffordshire the opportunity to receive business mentoring from an expert in their field.
After joining the mentoring scheme, Assured Packaging were partnered with a strategic sales and marketing specialist who had many years of experience in sales, business management, planning and time management, who would help implement some changes at the business.
Alan explained: “The mentoring programme was perfect for us; I was so busy running the business day-to-day that I didn’t have time for courses or residential training. By contacting theBusiness Helpline, I’ve been introduced to this excellent mentoring scheme that has enabled me to gain practical advice on running the office. We worked on sales techniques and presentation skills, and spent time working on our sales and marketing strategy. We also worked on time management, so that I could spend more time generating new business. We’ve also launched a new website, and have a more focused sales strategy. And the results have been great.”
In fact, the results from the mentoring have delivered a significant increase in sales volume, leading to the company taking on three new members of staff.
Alan added: “The mentoring really gave me the confidence to go out and win new business. Thanks to the strategies we put in place as part of the mentoring scheme, we’ve seen a big uplift in sales. We’ve taken on two new members of production staff to meet the extra demand, and we now have a full time member of administrative staff to help with the day-to-day running of the business. This means I get to focus on generating even more new business.”
David Frost, chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership said: “There is a wealth of expertise in the area, and the Growth Hub advisors can help local businesses to access that knowledge and available support.
“Knowledge transfer is a key tool to developing local businesses; we know that it works, as Assured Packaging have demonstrated. The main priority of The Growth Hub is to support business growth and employment in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, and it’s fantastic to see a local business create three new jobs through their signposting to the Mentoring scheme.”
Lancaster University plays two distinct and innovative roles in the Wave 2 Growth Hub programme – as programme managers and as expert support to programme development. A first for universities in the UK, this programme demonstrates the dynamic roles that universities, and especially their business schools, can play in the UK’s Growth Agenda. Lancaster University, which was named as a top-ten university for SME engagement in the recent Witty Review and has received a Gold Small Business Charter Award, successfully bid to run this Regional Growth Fund programme. This is due to its Management School’s long-standing reputation for innovative support to business, and also because of the university’s experience and expertise in successfully managing European Funding programmes across the UK.