Local businesses helped by Business Gateway during 12-month period topped £2billion turnover

Date posted: July 1, 2022
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Football America UK team
  • More than 1,500 businesses benefited from medium or deep support
  • 90%+ of those surveyed would use service again – and recommend to others
  • Partnership with district councils exceeded target of SMEs supported

The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP)’s Business Gateway Growth Hub supported more than 1,500 small businesses – with a combined turnover topping £2billion – during just 12 months.

The service also helped hundreds more people in Leicester and Leicestershire as they started their own businesses between April 2021 and March 2022.

The Business Gateway is a regional one-stop-shop for businesses, providing free business support including access to grants and funding, one-to-one business advice, events and signposting to other providers.

And a new report to Government describes its positive impact on local small enterprise as the region emerged from Lockdown.

Figures show:

  • 522 businesses – with a combined turnover of £1.15 billion and employing 4,148 people – received medium density support, including one-to-one consultancy and digital expertise including e-commerce, digital marketing, PR, branding and social media.
  • 1,013 businesses – with a combined turnover of £1.12 billion and employing 11,412 people – received high density support, including through the nationally-recognised Peer Network programme, the innovative advanced manufacturing programme, APPEX, and Start-Up Business Support (SUBS).
  • 344 individuals were helped to start a business through a range of grants and programmes.

A further 1,144 businesses received ‘light touch’ support, including signposting, webinars and in-person events covering key business topics, after making contact with Business Gateway advisers.

The report, which has been submitted to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), contains information which enables Government to assess progress and identify best practice and local innovation.

It describes how more than 90% of a sample of 67 businesses which participated in a Business Gateway Customer Satisfaction Survey said they would not only use the service again, but would recommend it to other businesses too.

Sonia Baigent, LLEP Board Member and Chair of the LLEP Business Gateway Board, said: “A small growth hub team and the Business Advisers have made a huge difference in supporting the local economy as it emerges from the Pandemic.

“The customer satisfaction levels show that our businesses really value what is being provided to them and the lengths the team has gone to in order to deliver a quality service.

“Despite the upheaval of the period, our advisers have helped businesses get more innovative, productive and sustainable.”

The Business Gateway also participated in a string of projects with partners during the period. Working with District Councils on an innovative programme it linked Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) offers to a support programme for businesses less than three years old. It aimed to support 150 businesses and actually helped 172.

Case study

Football America UK used the quiet of Lockdown to make big changes.

The Markfield-based business was supported with funding and advice through the Business Gateway as it invested in diversification and expansion.

The business received a £9,600 grant as it made the biggest single equipment purchase in its history – investing £28,000 in a new printer.

Customising team wear with existing machines had been a labour-intensive process.

The new printer cut lead time per garment by 80% – meaning around 90 items a day can now be produced rather than the previous 22.

The innovation supported productivity and growth – and not just in orders. A full-time employee has been taken on and the business hopes to create another part-time role this year.

Finance and Operations Manager, Steve McKenzie, said: “We are looking to diversify into apparel for other American sports in the UK, and other countries, which could potentially see our sales doubling to approximately £40,000 a month.”

Football America UK launched in 2008 after founder David Hagger spotted a gap in the market for affordable American football equipment.

Today, the business is the main supplier of equipment for university and senior teams across the UK, with plans to expand throughout Europe.

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