Signs looking good for Herefordshire company Case Study
"I cannot speak highly enough of the Marches Growth Hub. It is fantastic to have their help and support on the doorstep. They have made a huge difference to our business."
Laura Hughes, Director, Signs & Labels
£10,000 ERDF Business Growth Programme grant helped create one new job and purchase £70,000 printer
One-to-one business coaching through Building Business Confidence scheme provided invaluable support
Sustained period of growth thanks to regular Marches Growth Hub help and support
Talks under way with Marches Growth Hub over support for relocation plans
Hereford-based Signs & Labels was founded by John Hughes in the cellar of his home as a one-man band nearly 20 years ago and has now grown to a thriving business employing seven people at its base at the city's Imperial Business Centre in Mortimer Road.
The business makes high-quality internal and external signage, display signs, vehicle graphics, labels, lettering and bespoke products for a range of clients across the region and is now run by John's daughter Laura and son Ross.
Laura says a commitment to quality in every job comes as standard with the company, which has invested in new machinery over the last five years to meet its growth ambitions.
How the Marches Growth Hub helped
Signs & Labels first received help to grow the business five years ago from the Business Enterprise Fund Grant before the launch of the Marches Growth Hub.
That help amounted to a £10,000 grant towards a new flat-bed printer which created one new job, allowed the company to expand its commercial offer and helped launch a period of sustained growth.
It also led to the company hearing about the subsequent launch of the Marches Growth Hub Herefordshire, which is delivered by Herefordshire Council, and developing a close working relationship with Lyndsay Francis, the hub's manager.
When the company wanted to expand still further and invest in a £70,000 computer-controlled cutting machine known as a CNC router to increase productivity and the range of signs and graphics they could create, Lyndsay helped draw up an application for the Business Growth Programme grant.
The £10,000 the company received helped buy the new machine, which has substantially cut costs, increased productivity and allowed them to offer customers high quality, bespoke, cutting options for their signs.
Laura said: "The CNC router has made a huge difference to the business. It has cut our turnaround times, allowed us to take on contracts we would not have been able to accept previously, work more efficiently and in greater volume.
"We have had to take on another full-time member of staff to meet the extra demand."
Laura said both she and Ross had also benefited from one-to-one business coaching thanks to the Growth Hub, after Lyndsay put them in contact with Good2Great through the Building Business Confidence scheme, which has now closed.
"Johnny Themans from Good2Great came and delivered four sessions at our workshop to help Ross and I get to grips with everything we needed to know about running the company when we took over from Dad," said Laura.
"We are both quite young and the help he gave us in looking at the different aspects of everything we needed to do was excellent."
Signs & Labels is now in its fifth year of continual growth – both in terms of staff and turnover – as a direct result of the help it has received from the Marches Growth Hub. Turnover for the last financial year was up 33 per cent, with profits more than doubling on the previous year.
The new CNC router has allowed it to move the business onto a new level, offering a wider range of services at even higher quality and in greater volume.
Laura said the company had recently completed a contract to create a 4m x 3m clown for a client which had involved some 50 hours of cutting time on the machine.
"That is exactly the sort of project we would have been unable to take on prior to our investment in the new machinery because we simply would not have been able to do it. But I have to say the finished product looks excellent and we are very proud of it.
"We would not be where we are today without the Growth Hub, and I cannot speak highly enough of them. It is fantastic to have their help and support on the doorstep. They have made a huge difference to our business."
Signs & Labels is now looking to take the next step on its business growth journey – by moving to new premises.
The company is considering a move to Rotherwas in Hereford to be closer to the majority of its clients and to expand.
"We will be looking to move in the next couple of years and we have already spoken to Lyndsay and the Growth Hub team about what help and support is available. We will continue to work with them as we continue to grow in the years to come."