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Company:Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company

New Loom and 6 new jobs Growing Business Fund
https://gainsborough.co.uk/

 

Investing for their future

Sudbury has a long history of being one of the UK’s most important silk weaving centres and is home to Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company. It produces some of the finest furnishing fabrics on the market and holds a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen. In recent years, competition has increased at the less expensive end of the market where high quality polyesters are now being produced to rival the look and feel of high quality silk.

Managing Director, Emerson Roberts, recognised that it needed to diversify into markets looking for a less expensive silk so decided to launch a number of new ‘collections’ to be produced in higher volumes on a modern loom. A new loom had to be purchased and that’s when he turned to New Anglia Growth Hub to help. Watch the video to find out how one of New Anglia Growth Hub’s advisers supported Emerson’s entry into a new market.

If your business has ambitious growth plans and needs help with funding the vital components that would deliver them, we’d love to hear from you. Pick up the phone and call us on 0300 333 6356 and we will put you in touch with one of expert advisers who’ll arrange to come and meet you to discuss your plans.

You can read more about how Gainsborough Silk Weaving worked with the New Anglia Growth Hub in detail below:

The story behind The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company

Sudbury has a long history of being one of the UK’s most important silk weaving centres, an industry which is being sustained by the continued production of silk by three mills in the town, one of them being Gainsborough.

Gainsborough designs, dyes and weaves a broad range of natural yarns, to create some of the finest furnishing fabrics on the market. Founded in 1903, it is a preferred supplier of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and holds a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen. Indeed, a silk item woven at the Sudbury mill has featured in many Royal Weddings including the upholstery in the Ascot Landau carriage used by Harry and Meghan recently.

The silk that Gainsborough weaves is of the very highest quality and as such commands a premium price. Its core customers are interior designers who are commissioned to work on historical homes, luxury hotels, palaces, embassies, the hospitality industry and the homes of the super-rich. As a result, their orders are often bespoke and unique; the fabrics are typically used for walling, curtains and upholstery, as well as linings on luxury cars and luggage.

In recent years, competition has increased at the less expensive end of the market where high quality polyesters are now being produced to rival the look and feel of high quality silk. Gainsborough recognised that it needed to diversify into markets looking for a less expensive silk product so needed to breathe new life into its brand.

Emerson’s challenge

Emerson Roberts was recruited from folding bicycle company Brompton, where he was sales and marketing director responsible for revitalising its fortunes. He recognised that one of the first tasks for Gainsborough was to reach out to the interior design sector who had neglected them in favour of suppliers of other silks and polyesters.

One of the pillars of Gainsborough’s strategy is to develop a number of ‘collections’ that can be produced in higher volumes on a modern loom instead of the more traditional bespoke silk woven on mechanical Hattersley looms. The opportunity for these collections lies in places where British design and craftsmanship are highly valued, such as the US, Middle East, Japan and Russia.

Therefore, the purchase of a new loom and the employment of a skilled operator were top of Emerson’s shopping list.

The support from the Growth Hub

Emerson initially approached the firm’s bank and a third party lender to investigate the routes to source the capital needed to buy the loom. Even though it was going to be a second-hand Dornier loom it would still cost upwards of £60,000. Plus, he would need to buy the Bonas Jacquard Harness that would dictate the designs which was another £60,000, pay a £10,000 delivery and installation charge and invest £32,500 to upgrade the dye house.

Emerson discovered the Growth Hub and the grant funding available to secure and grow employment which is what he would need to do to penetrate the new ‘collections’ market.

Growth Hub help

Emerson rang the Growth Hub and spoke to Richard Glinn to first of all understand whether or not his business proposition would be eligible for grant funding. After a rigorous process of evaluation, Emerson was given the green light to apply.

The next step was to complete the application. Emerson was impressed at the amount of detail and specifics required, such as the number of employees he would need to take on, the timeframes that his plans were to be delivered in and the robustness of his investors’ requirements. Gainsborough received a 20% grant of £32,000 from the Growing Business Fund, enabling Emerson to purchase the new Dornier loom.

The expansion of the business resulted in an additional six new roles being created.

As planned, Gainsborough was able to weave a large volume of fabric to export to the US and has developed three new collections – Sir John Soane’s, House Medici and The Bunny Gets It.

Working with the Growth Hub

Emerson summarised, “The Growth Hub provided fantastic support to our business. It helped us secure a good proportion of the financing needed to take this business into the new markets we want to exploit. However, before making your initial approach, I would recommend that any business owner or management team first has a credible and well-researched plan that will, with the support of the Growth Hub and its funding, deliver growth, sustainability and improved employment prospects.

“Knowing your markets and customers, having a sound financial footing and projecting sensible and attainable business objectives really made a compelling story for Gainsborough’s bid.”

The adviser’s view

Richard Glinn said, “The challenges Gainsborough faced of moving into new markets and revitalising the brand are ones we are familiar with and recognise the need for investment. Having someone at the helm with a good track record, clear plans and a credible vision for the future really does help the bid. But, it’s also important to adhere to, and embrace, the process involved in securing grant funding as the rigour is vital to making sure the money is invested wisely and for the good of an industry, community and skills base. I am glad that we were able to assist Gainsborough in its bid to secure silk weaving in Sudbury for many years to come.”

If your business has ambitious growth plans and needs help with funding the vital components that would deliver them, we’d love to hear from you. Pick up the phone and call us on 0300 333 6356 and we will put you in touch with one of expert advisers who’ll arrange to come and meet you to discuss your plans.

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