Sir Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mills

Sir Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mills

Sector: Visitor attraction and educational charity

Location: Derbyshire Dales

Cromford Mills is a water-powered cotton mill that acts as the Northern Gateway to the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building, seen as the birthplace of the modern factory system, was set up by industrialist Richard Arkwright in the 1770s.

The site was rescued from demolition in the 1970s by the Arkwright Society. Since then, an army of volunteers and supporters have worked tirelessly to re-invent the Mills as a centre for heritage, education and business support.

Challenges faced

As the charity receives no core funding from Government or elsewhere, its greatest challenge has been, and remains, maintaining its very existence. Rising energy costs have had a massive impact and electricity bills have increased four-fold. The site has a proud heritage as one of the world’s great enablers of water energy. It stands to reason, therefore, that renewable energy should once again sit at the heart of Cromford Mills’s ambition to become a net zero site.

Solution and Impact

The charity has secured Accelerator support in three key areas: one-to-one sessions with a business adviser, specialised energy consultancy, and training.

Dedicated time spent with the Chamber’s Head of Business Support Services Paul Stuart, has enabled the charity to consider what priority actions it needs to take to fulfil its long-term strategic ambitions. Bringing in a fresh pair of eyes to the charity’s operations is enabling Chief Executive Éilis Scott to identify best practice. One particularly relevant area of Paul’s operational expertise is his management of the Chamber’s Friars Mill premises in Leicester. As a site that combines industrial heritage, iconic architecture and a waterside setting, there are many similarities between it and the managed workspaces offered at Cromford. The charity has been given support too in developing opportunities around hosting larger-scale events.

Fully-funded specialist consultancy has also been provided in the form of an energy audit. Environmental experts Loreus have undertaken a detailed analysis of the charity’s energy usage, identifying where it might reduce its energy costs and carbon footprint, and presenting its findings as a decarbonisation plan.

There has been benefit too from training, with the charity’s marketing officer attending an Accelerator one-day workshop on Blogging with Authority.

"We greatly appreciate the invaluable support given through the Accelerator project. Specialist advice is helping us address our financial hurdles and review our energy management.

Paul’s support has also been fantastic, focusing on finding solutions and making informed decisions.”

- Éilis Scott, Chief Executive

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Rumbletums Cafe

Rumbletums CafeSector:  Catering and Hospitality

Location: Broxtowe

Established in 2011 by parents of young people with learning difficulties, Rumbletums Café is a registered charity that provides excellent homemade food, training facilities and is also a community hub for all.

The vision for Rumbletums is that it enables young people to access work related training and to be a part of their local community. Rumbletums is now a well-established business with capacity for up to 30 trainees, 10 members of staff and nearly 50 volunteers.

Challenges faced

Rumbletums proactively identifies areas of improvement and potential threats to the business. Higher energy costs became a huge concern as they are a small business with relatively high energy use. In 2022 they received a grant to help with immediate energy costs, but knew that they needed to make changes to energy usage to be more sustainable in future.

Solution and Impact

The Accelerator program is supporting the business in improving energy efficiencies and reducing energy costs, which will translate into a more sustainable business. Rumbletums attended an Energy Audit workshop which gave them the tools needed to measure their energy usage. This identified areas in which they could improve, specifically in regards to refrigeration and insulation. They were able to calculate the potential energy savings and even measure how much carbon would be reduced as a result.

Having completed the energy audit, they applied for the UKSPF Business Energy Grant. As a result of this, they were able to purchase energy efficient equipment and complete loft insulation which meant that they could achieve their goals of reducing energy use. This has helped them to address energy costs in a sustainable way and ensures that they are doing what they can to improve environmental impact.

" The Accelerator program has allowed us to look at our business in more detail and put real changes into place.

For Rumbletums Café that means reducing our carbon footprint and improving energy efficiency. Lower heating and electricity bills will reduce day to day costs. We have already completed attic insulation, a major improvement in the fabric of the building, which will provide lasting benefits to our business.”

- Sarah Rauch, Trustee

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Aria Sustainability Ltd

Aria Sustainability Ltd

Sector: Sustainability Consulting

Location: Broxtowe

Aria Sustainability, founded in 2020 and based in Beeston Nottingham, is a specialised sustainability firm.

With a team comprising of one director and one employee, they focus on life cycle assessment (LCA) and carbon accounting for both products and organisations. Their core expertise lies in decarbonisation strategies, where they guide companies through the development and implementation of effective plans. They offer support for companies aiming to join initiatives like the Science Based Targets and to enhance their CDP ratings.

Challenges faced

Scaling a startup solely with technical expertise proved to be challenging due to a lack of marketing acumen, business development and having strategic focus making it arduous to plan, communicate and deliver. Due to a scarcity of experts in this niche field, hiring experienced individuals is costly which has been a challenge for the business.

In addition to this, training from scratch is a time-consuming necessity which diverts resources away from running the business and delivery is complex.

Solution and Impact

Aria Sustainability were awarded a small business grant from the Accelerator project which has really helped to propel the business forward. They have used the grant to partner with a local creative agency, to build a website and craft a solid marketing strategy. The website, along with expertly created content, is their online hub, attracting potential customers and boosting sales. This strategic move sets the stage for growth, as increased revenue allows the business to bring in experienced professionals, fuelling further expansion. In addition to funding, the one-to-one support received from a business adviser has also helped to play a significant role in the growth of the business. The business also utilised free webinars provided by the D2N2 Growth Hub on marketing, social media and sales. These not only helped to conserve funds but also offered valuable insights, guiding the business on how to optimally allocate the grant for the most effective marketing impact.

The impact of this support includes an increase in sales, recruiting additional talent to streamline processes, trimming internal costs, and introducing new capabilities. These will span satellite-based analyses, feasibility studies for solar plants (both heat and electricity aspects), pioneering the development and industrialization of novel packaging materials, optimization projects, and fostering collaborations with universities.

"Our D2N2 business advisor, Sonny has been a real help in guiding us through the complexities of what is required; diagnosing, action planning to secure important financial support and, starting off strategising. For a micro-business, an infusion of expertise and funds can make a notable impact.”

- Matteo Cossutta, Director

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Billie Rose Therapy and Wellbeing

Sector: Counselling Services

Location: Derbyshire Dales

As a qualified and accredited counsellor, Billie offers private counselling to adults, children and couples both in person and online. Offering a compassionate and confidential space to work through personal issues and mental illness.

In addition, she has a bank of online self-help courses aimed at supporting people through a specific difficulty using video content and resources to provide the information anytime, anywhere.

Challenges faced

Being a sole trader Billie has faced the challenge of trying to split her time across all areas of the business, especially areas in which her knowledge is quite minimal such as marketing. In additional to this, Billie would like to utilise the accessibility of social media to spread the word. However, this can be difficult due to the stigma and a lack of understanding around mental health that comes with working in this area.

Solution and Impact

Billie received support from the Accelerator project firstly through a dedicated business adviser. The adviser was able to help Billie to understand all areas of her business better, identify pain points and consider the future direction of the business plan. This resulted in an application for a Growth Voucher which Billie was able to use towards support from marketing consultant Lindsey Newman Wood. Working closely with Billie, Lindsey took the time to understand the business goals and aspirations. She provided insight and inspiration into the different ways in which social media can be used to raise awareness of the business and its offering. She also emphasized the importance of personal branding as a marketing strategy and ensuring the business has a face so people can see who they would be receiving support from.

The impact for the business has been increased competitive advantage as similar marketing activity within the sector locally is low. Billie now has a varied social media marketing plan which has helped her to keep on top of the content needed to create and schedule which has helped make this side of the business more manageable given the time pressures she has faced.

"I am really grateful for the support I have received from the chamber and Lindsey, it has given my business a new lease of life and given me encouragement to consider more ways I can expand the services I provide.”

- Billie Pursglove, Owner

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Old Rectory Spa

Old Rectory SpaSector: Health and Beauty

Location: Newark & Sherwood

Founded in 2022, the Old Rectory Spa is a family run wellbeing spa retreat providing holistic health treatments and exclusive spa experiences in the village of North Scarle on the Nottinghamshire/ Lincolnshire border.

The spa offers a range of luxury treatments which include an outdoor hot tub, sauna, cold water therapy and a relaxation room. The business employs a team of highly trained spa therapists who are qualified in offering bespoke treatments for customers. The team has grown from just 4 to now 14 in the last 12 months.

Challenges faced

Due to their significant growth the Old Rectory Spa has faced challenges in recruitment. As the business prides itself on having a team of knowledgeable and expert therapists, it has been a challenge to recruit therapists that meet these high standards. Despite these difficulties the business persevered and they now have a fantastic, highly skilled team.

An additional challenge faced was opening in the middle of a cost of living and energy crisis, which directly affected customer spending, impacting the business goals.

Solution and Impact

With support from a business adviser, the Old Rectory Spa has benefited from a number of interventions available through the Accelerator project. This includes undertaking an energy audit, as heating and electricity are one of the biggest overheads faced by the business. The energy audit will form part of a decarbonisation plan, which will feed into a wider sustainability strategy. This is incredibly important to the business and they have already made steps towards this, such as removing the use of unnecessary single use items and exploring the installation of solar panels and individual heat pumps for the hot tubs.

Through the installation of the heat pumps the hope is that per annum the business can save approximately two thirds of their hot tub’s power consumption. An average Hot tub costs approximately £100 per month to run with the current energy prices. Air Source Heat Pumps can reduce this by 50-60% in the winter and more in the summer. Therefore, the anticipated saving is between £1400 - £1600 per annum. This will also equate to a significant energy saving, allowing the business to move closer to their goal of becoming a sustainable business.

The business has also benefited from a Growth Voucher through the Accelerator project. This will enable them to work with a local brand consultancy to look at how they can raise awareness of the spa to promote their unique offering, helping to grow revenue.

“Although we have faced challenges in our first year, we have such a unique business, in the most beautiful setting, our customer feedback has been fantastic and we are excited and optimistic for our future.”

- Katie Statham, Director

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Bright and Beautiful

Bright and BeautifulSector: Housekeeping Services

Location: Derby

Established in 2018 by Toni Hibbert, Bright and Beautiful provides premium housekeeping services to domestic customers across the Derby area.

This covers a variety of services including cleaning, ironing, laundry and more. Having had previous experience in natural products, running a sales team and then progressing to sales director in a previous career, Toni then established Bright and Beautiful. The company employs a team of 20 experienced staff who are all DBS checked, fully trained in care, attention to detail and being security conscious to respect the properties they manage. The company prides itself on the use of only eco-friendly products.

Challenges faced

The business has experienced impressive year-on-year growth of over 20%. Furthermore, Toni has extended the service to include laundry and ironing services, effectively seeking to offer a full package for her premium customers. Toni would like to take this to another level by offering a subscription-based laundry service. Having tested the market with short-stay properties, she feels that there is potential to expand this market in line with the increase in Air BnB offerings. Managing the finances of a growing business remains a challenge and this is an area which guidance has been sought from the Accelerator project.

Solution and Impact

Bright and Beautiful has accessed the one-to-one support from the Business Adviser team to help manage financial forecasts which will help to maintain the impressive growth seen to date. Looking forward, Toni is keen to upskill her team to take on more customer interaction and sales roles and she is in the process of arranging telesales training for key members of the team, via a growth voucher through the Accelerator project. Toni has developed a strong team to support her and as she focuses on managing the business, as such, she has been introduced to the Help to Grow Management programme to support her own management development. This has been facilitated through the Accelerator project.

The impact of the support to date has helped to ensure that the business reaches its growth trajectory, as well as aiding Toni’s financial management skills. The training for the team will directly support the move into newer markets such as short-stay properties, which will contribute to additional sales and income generation. Investing in staff is a key part of Toni’s plans and many of her team have been with her from the start, which demonstrates how well they feel valued.

“The move to becoming a business owner was an exciting challenge for me, and five years on I have learnt so much. The advice and support from the business advisor team has been invaluable. I have a clear vision of financial forecasting and all-important numbers for 2024. I am so proud of my team and achieving my goal of providing ethical employment, building a valued business and putting Bright and Beautiful on the map in Derby!”

-Toni Hibbert, Director

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Find me the Leads® Ltd

Find Me the LeadsFounded by Leisa Pickles in May 2018, Find me the Leads® Ltd works exclusively with independent food and drink producers to help them get their products into more places, predominantly in the hospitality, specialty fine food and health food sectors. Find me the Leads® connects businesses of all shapes and sizes both on- and off-line, to drive more sales, build long term business relationships and to get their services in front of the right people.

Challenges faced

The business found challenges in relation to growth and achieving the long term goals set out in the business plan. Owner Leisa wanted to grow the business by adding an additional revenue stream that would generate a reoccurring income, critical to the long-term growth of the business. In particular Leisa wanted to know how to reach more customers by utilising the skills and resources which already existed in the business more effectively. In addition to this, how to introduce a recurring revenue stream which can facilitate reinvestment back into the business and also free up the existing workforce to focus on generating additional revenue from new products and services.

Solution and Impact

Leisa decided to introduce an online membership programme to support more food and drink producers to expand into retail. By doing this, Find me the Leads® would be able to reach more businesses and add the additional revenue stream needed to help make the goals of the business a reality. Through this process Leisa was supported by a Chamber business adviser, Richard Crowden, as part of the Accelerator project. Richard was able to support the business through the growth voucher element of the Accelerator project which offers up to £2,000 of specialist consultancy and training. The consultant was able to support the installation of a membership portal accessed from the existing company website.

The introduction of this new product has had a huge impact on the business. It will enable them to support a bigger customer base providing them with the same product which they can access to suit their needs and requirements. By adopting a digital solution, the current workforce will be able to develop and introduce new products to the business which maximise their strengths and experience. Longer term, this product will establish Find me the Leads® as an expert in their field making them the go to Business for food & drink Producers who want to expand into retail and grow their existing sales.

“I am so grateful for the support received from the Accelerator Programme and in particular my Business Adviser, Richard Crowden. By accessing the services of a Chamber Consultant supported by investment from a UKSPF Growth Voucher, I have been able to introduce a new product to market, improve the productivity of my Business, safeguard the jobs of the existing workforce and secure long term business growth and prosperity.”

- Leisa Pickles, Owner

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