Plant pot maker sees turnover take off with help from mentoring programme

Plant pot manufacturer MKM Creations has seen a tenfold rise in turnover and a marked increase in profitability, thanks to Boost Business Lancashire's Growth Mentoring programme.

The Chorley-based business has also developed an effective marketing strategy that has expanded its customer-base, as well as implementing new production processes to ensure quality and consistency.

Owner Mark Francis founded the business after a career in the armed forces. Customers include landscape gardeners, interior designers, local garden centres and hotels.

Initially making his products from steel and aluminum, Francis eventually identified a supplier that produces fibre glass moulds that can be used to mass produce some of his designs.

He wanted to grow the business by raising production and expanding his customer-base, without losing the quality that had generated his initial success.

He learned about Growth Mentoring from a business friend and after contacting Boost, Francis was assigned to work with Clive Thompson, an experienced mentor at business support organisation Orvia, which delivers the programme for Boost. 

Boost Business Lancashire is the £7.2m Lancashire Business Growth Hub, offering free and part-funded business support to ambitious and growing businesses.

Francis said: "Clive’s help, support and knowledge has been invaluable to the expansion of our business. We really can’t express enough gratitude to Clive and to Orvia for all the help we have received from the Boost programme."

The mentoring has enabled Francis to better understand pricing structures and profitability, attract extra work through commissions from designers and architects, and review the services of his fibre glass mould supplier to ensure consistency and quality.

Thompson said: "Mark displayed real enthusiasm and passion for his products, and was keen to capture the potential for his designs, without losing quality. We focused the mentoring time on making sure the business can expand on solid foundations.

"Exhibitions have been planned and the website updated to reflect the ethos of Mark’s company. With the assistance of his partner, Katie, a marketing strategy has been created which includes promoting the latest designs and colours. Together they make a great team, each bringing vital ingredients to the business mix."

Ann Holcroft, operations manager at Orvia, added: "Mark has really enjoyed the Boost mentoring process and has benefited from having an experienced mentor to help with his growth issues, especially in areas where he didn’t have any previous experience.

"His growth to date is very impressive and I know he is developing new markets. I am looking forward to seeing how much more this business can achieve over the coming months."

Boost is delivered by Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and supported by money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Boost has supported more than 2,800 businesses and created more than 900 jobs since it launched in July 2013.

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