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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Bury St Edmunds-based Servest sets sights on European expansion
06:00 02 March 2016
Servest Multi Service Group for Business East feature. Pictured is CEO Rob Legge.
The EDP Top100 firm, which employs 3,500 people in Norfolk and Suffolk, wants to double its turnover within three years and launch a similar operation across the continent, according to chief executive Rob Legge. But it also has its eye on expansion at home, with hopes for bolstering its East Anglian base and launching a coffee shop chain to take advantage of the artisan coffee trend.
Mr Legge said: We are actively looking for something locally and in London. We would like to see that turn into a chain. The Bury St Edmunds-based business, part of a larger group based in South Africa, saw turnover grow 12pc to 240m for the year ending September 30, 2015. It took on more than 1,600 new staff and made two acquisitions during the year, Cambridge-based pest control business Pest Patrol in February 2015 and Bury St Edmunds-based Llewellyn
Smith in July.
And it further expanded its catering division in January this year with the purchase of Accuro Catering, part of the London-based Accuro FM Group. Mr Legge said the hunt for acquisitions would continue in 2016, ranging from landscaping businesses to catering, electrical engineering and pest control. And he said the business had been working on its European offering for the last year, and was likely to reveal its plans within the next month.
We would like to be in all of Europe in some shape or form, he added.
It is part of a plan to grow turnover to 500m within three years through acquisitions and organic growth. Mr Legge added: There are a number of other opportunities we are looking at. We are open-minded about anything. As long as it has a good revenue. But rather than relying on banks for funding, for the last two years the business has looked to the Canadian Pension Plan for investment.
Traditional bank funding doesn t work for us anymore, said Mr Legge. There is a surplus of cash in the market and greater opportunities for borrowing in a cash-generating business.
Most people would like to get away from banks if they can. Banks are trying to come back into the market because their order books are drying up.
They are realising without lending money to businesses like ours they are going to dry out. While international expansion and further work in Ireland are part of the plan, Servest is also looking to move its business in Bury St Edmunds, bringing its three separate sites under one roof. Its head office staff of 300 is likely to grow to 400 over the next four years, according to Mr Legge.
The company recorded a pre-tax profit of 349,000 for the year to the end of September 2015, down from a profit of 2.3m the year before. But it pointed towards increased finance charges for the year and highlighted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) of 16.7m, up from 13.4m the year before. Servest offers a range of facilities management solutions to clients in sectors including retail, leisure, public, commercial, construction, transport and logistics. Contract wins during the last year include Homebase and Argos owner Home Retail Group and the London
It is 73pc owned by South African-owned Servest Group PTY, which sold a 51pc stake to investment firm
KAGISO Tiso Holdings in June last year.
15:11 02 July 2015 The Potter Logistics team receiving the Haulier of the Year award at the Motor Transport Awards. Archant Haulage business Potter Logistics, which has a distribution centre in Ely, has won a handful of national awards. The firm, in its 50th year, was named Motor Transport Awards Haulier of the Year 2015.
Then, at the UKWA Awards, colleagues were awarded Warehouse Manager of the Year, Young Employee of the Year and the Chairman s Award. Warehouse Manager of the Year was Scott Wallace, Young Employee of the Year was Joe Jackson part and the Chairman s Award went to founder and executive chairman Derrick Potter. The Motor Transport Awards judges said of Potter Logistics: The company had put in a strong financial performance and had good control over all aspects of its business.
It was a family business with a customer driven ethos, offered comprehensive training and took a flexible, innovative approach.
Matthew Lamb, Potter s managing director, said: Today has been a fantastic day for Potter Logistics, not only have we won the two awards at the UKWA awards but also winning Motor Transport Awards Haulier of the Year.
These awards are recognised within the industry as the awards that confirm the professionalism and commitment of our staff who put the hard work into ensuring the highest of standards are kept.