Loads4Less, Progress Recruitment and Netmatters – the entrepreneurial businesses first to receive growth Future50 grants for growth
10:00 03 March 2016
Progress Recruitment. Director Laura Rycroft with her team.Picture: ANTONY KELLY
Archant Norfolk 2016
Future50 firms are helping to create jobs thanks to a new government backed fund. Business writer SABAH MEDDINGS reveals the investment plans of the first wave recipient businesses
Share link shares Adam Soall, founder of Loads4Less. Picture: Submitted
They are the elite of a new generation of businesses those with the entrepreneurial spark and growth ambitions to become the major players of tomorrow. And with previous alumni including Naked Wines, Seajacks and Go Ape – multi-million pound firms employing thousands of people across the country – the Future50 intake of 2016 have good reason to aim high. Three of their number have been boosted by grants totalling 20,000 from the 1.2m Regional Growth Fund, which they will invest to fuelgrowth, upgrade equipment, create jobs and improve marketing.
Progress Recruitment, Loads4Less and Netmatters are the first firms to secure the cash, with more than a dozen more grants in the pipeline. The grants are administered by business support organisation Nwes, which has been working with the Future50 firms to help them achieve new levels of growth. Nwes senior business adviser Richard Voisey, pictured, said Future50 was about helping the businesses which were driving the economy in Norfolk and Suffolk. The money is intended to help them increase turnover and take on more employees.
It s about the difference the grant makes, said Mr Voisey. It allows them to do something they wouldn t necessarily have done without the grant.
Having worked on this project since July last year, I have been really pleasantly surprised how many businesses out there in Norfolk and Suffolk who are really making things happen. But they re not necessarily singing from the rooftops to let people know what they are doing.
Chris and James Gulliver (left to right) of Netmatters. Picture: Submitted
Coaching has helped businesses make the transition from being one-person start-ups to navigating the early days of employing people, with the added pressures of HR, management and payroll.
A lot of the business I have been working with started off being kitchen table businesses and then have gone on to get premises and then staff, said Mr Voisey.
When Progress Recruitment managing director Laura Rycroft launched the business from her spare room in 2011, there was a stair gate at the door and she took calls while looking after her newborn baby boy. Now, five years on, the business employs 15 people and is about to move into bigger offices in its current home at Sapphire House in Roundtree Way, Norwich. Its turnover has reached 500,000, and staff numbers are set to grow over the next few months.
A Future50 grant for 6,300 has been put towards a new database – which cost 31,500 plus VAT – allowing recruitment staff to place more candidates in the automotive and logistics trade. The scheme has also helped find new business for the firm, with Progress Recruitment sourcing staff for fellow Future 50 company Lifeline24, and Lambda Films helping with promotion.
In five years time I would like to be more established and doing well over 1m turnover, said Ms Rycroft, now a 34-year-old mum-of-two. She used 10,000 of savings to launch the business, and said turnover was on target to reach 750,000 next year.
The good thing with recruitment is if someone is being productive they should cover their own costs, she added.
Many of Progress Recruitment s own staff come from an automotive background, which helps win new business across the UK.
I like the fact we know it in depth. We can see from a CV if they have the right qualifications.
We fully register each candidate and discuss the job and where it is before we submit the CV. She added: I didn t think we would be here when I was working in my spare room.
A business which launched as a man-with-a-van venture six years ago with 500 and a rented van has developed a three-year plan to break the 1m turnover mark. Low-cost removals specialist Loads4Less, based in Canary Way, Norwich, wants to expand into Cambridge, and has hopes to reach across the UK in the next five years, according to founder and director Adam Soall. Its 5,839 of Future50 funding has been used to extend its reach through digital marketing and contribute towards a new vehicle.
Mr Soall, 36, also wants to employ someone to increase the company s profile on social media, and add a full-time administrator to the team. He has also received business coaching and help in developing the structure of the company from Nwes.
I went from being in the van and someone who was always manoeuvring things to all of a sudden being in charge of a load of people and in the office all the time, said Mr Soall.
We have got around 10 to 12 people now. That should grow over the next year. Mr Soall, a former landlord of the Spread Eagle pub in Sussex Street, said he was targeting a middle-class market who might be moving from a three-bedroom house.
They don t need an 18-tonne lorry if they are moving half a mile down the road, he said. If you have to do two trips it s not far to go.
We are professional, we re good at what we do and we re still affordable.
As the business expands, he said he hoped to save on carbon emissions by offering shared loads, which would also cut costs for customers. The business currently has a turnover of 420,000.
Chris Gulliver, pictured below left, was working as head of IT for a group of companies when he decided to launch his own business in 2008. He agreed a deal to carve out web-design arm Netmatters from one of the firms, and was joined by brother James, below right, who was working as a freelance web developer.
Within the first year the business grew to employ six people, with a turnover of 400,000. Eight years later, it has just bought a third unit at its Wymondham base, and is using its Future50 grant of 5,026 to help pay for a disaster recovery suite – standby office space for businesses whose own offices are unusable for a period of time. It also employs 37 people, and has plans to grow to 45 by the end of the year. Managing director Chris, 36, said: We will probably get up to about 50 staff. We work across all industries, so it might be a case of consolidating and specialising in some areas.
Turnover has also increased to 2.5m, up from 1.8m last year, with growth coming from new and existing customers.
There s a lot of opportunity to cross-sell, he said. A business might come in for some digital marketing and might want some IT or design as well.
A lot of work goes into new customers, so we want to maximise the ones we have got.
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10:00 03 July 2015 Paul Geater 1 Tom Gondris with his wife Pat after getting the MBE in 2009. As tributes flowed in to the British Schindler , a former Suffolk businessman who was on his last Kinder Transport train out of Prague has spoken of his gratitude to the man who saved his life. Tom Gondris was a nine-year-old Czech child who spoke hardly a word of English when he was put on the train to Holland and the ferry to Harwich in 1939.
Mr Gondris journey from Prague to Britain was funded by family friends, so he was not included on the official list of 669 Winton Children who were found sponsors by Sir Nicholas, who died on Wednesday, aged 106. But he is in no doubt about the importance of the man who saved so many children. Mr Gondris said: If he had not been there, if he had not organised the trains, I would not have survived.
I owe him my life. His parents, whom he waved goodbye to at Prague station, left their homeland and made their way to Poland in a bid to catch a boat to Britain to meet up with their son. But the German and Russian invasion of Poland, and the start of the war, prevented that from happening.
Mr Gondris said: I hoped to see them again, but in the end that did not happen. All the children who had escaped from the Nazis were offered British citizenship after the war. Mr Gondris did National Service during the Suez campaign and became a successful businessman in Ipswich.
During the 1960s and 1970s he was also a Labour councillor. All my life was made possible by Sir Nicholas, he said. I never met him but I became aware of what he had done.
In 2009 the 70th anniversary of the Kinder Transport was marked by the running of a special train from Prague to the Hook of Holland and then from Harwich to Liverpool Street. At Liverpool Street there was an official reception hosted by the British Government and the Czech Embassy. The government representative was then Ipswich MP Chris Mole who was a transport minister.
He said: I travelled from Harwich on the special steam train on that day. I met some of those who had been saved by Sir Nicholas. He really was a remarkable man.
Sir Nicholas was at Liverpool Street to meet the train with members of his family and had the opportunity to meet again some of the children he had saved.
References ^ Paul Geater (www.eadt.co.uk)
20:35 19 June 2015 Edmund Crosthwaite 1 Ipswich railway station Archant A broken down freight train is causing delays for travellers between Ipswich and Cambridgeshire. The problem occurred between Bury St Edmunds and Thurston and has blocked some of the lines. This means services between Ipswich and Cambridge, and Ipswich and Ely may be cancelled, delayed or revised.
This is likely to continue until around midnight tonight. Rail replacement buses are currently being set up and further information will be given by train operator Abellio Greater Anglia as soon as it is available. The operator also apologised for the disruption.
The company s delay repay information can be found at www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk/about-us/our-performance/delay-repay References ^ Edmund Crosthwaite (www.eadt.co.uk)