Leeds-based flooring specialist bestatflooring.co.uk benefitted from a grant from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) ‘Unlocking Business Investment’ Regional Growth Fund programme. Here, founder Steve Walker discusses how his company navigated the process of achieving this Regional Growth Fund grant.
1. What is your business, how long has it been going and how was it funded?
We are an independent flooring specialist based in West Yorkshire. The business caters for domestic, contract and commercial customers across Yorkshire and the UK. It was established in 1961, so has now been trading for 55 years. We have grown on the foundation of re-investment, with all profits distributed throughout the business to help create both stability and growth.
2. How did you find out about the grant? What did you need it for?
We found out about the Regional Growth Fund grant through Leeds City Council when looking at warehousing units in the Enterprise Zone. We applied for the grant to help us fit out our new distribution warehouse. We decided that it would be the ideal facility for us to grow and expand, particularly as the new-build housing and online sector continues to grow. As a result, we are constantly looking to continue developing our business to compliment this.
3. What was the application process like? What did you have to do?
The LEP was a great help throughout the process. The main aim of the grant is to create growth, and alongside that, to bring new permanent jobs to the Leeds City Region. During the application process we had to demonstrate how we would do this as an outcome of the investment. We also had to show the financial stability of the expansion working alongside out accounts team and bank manager. Essentially we had to show the purchase was both viable and achievable.
4. How much money did you seek? What were the conditions of the grants?
There are various factors that define eligibility as a business, such as the type of business and how you can fit in with their requirements.
The key requirements that are stated on LEP’s website are relatively simple, but are part of a quite extensive application process for this Regional Growth Fund grant.
Here are some examples:
• Your project must create permanent new jobs in the Leeds City Region
• You must have private finance available: either your own, from a bank, or other commercial finance to invest alongside.
• Projects must support the City Region’s key growth sectors.
5. When you got the money, what did you do with it?
The grant was used to enable the company to equip our new £1.6 million distribution warehouse, and in the space of a year this has created five new jobs. We have also been able to invest in our future, by taking on two apprentices through the local scheme. This has already enabled us to win new contracts with numerous companies.
6. What advice would you give to other companies seeking grants?
If you are ready to grow as a company and want to create strong foundations for expansion, a grant can really help. Go for it!