Paint business has designs on growth thanks to grant funding
A pioneering manufacturer of high-end, environmentally friendly paints will increase its workforce and realise continued growth thanks to a grant from Herefordshire Council.
The grant, worth over £9,000, is part of the Marches Building Investment Grant (MBIG) which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It is aimed at funding extensions, renovations and reconfigurations to commercial premises so that businesses can realise growth and for Edward Bulmer Natural Paints (EBNP), it has meant a significant expansion to its headquarters in Pembridge, near Leominster.
Born out of an interior design business that provides design consultancy to the UK’s finest listed buildings, EBNP initially launched in response to a client who requested that no chemicals should be used in their home. It soon became apparent, however, that there was a wider market for producing natural paints and so began a journey of incredible growth.
Edward Bulmer Natural Paints became a brand in its own right in 2015 and has grown seven-fold since. Now boasting a portfolio of 72 paint colours, all derived simply from natural earth and mineral pigments, its eco-credentials, combined with a burgeoning mass-interest in interior design, have allowed EBNP to quickly become a much sough-after premium brand.
Director Emma Bulmer explains: “We deliver a top-quality product and with so few truly natural paints available, we’ve quickly achieved stand-out in the market. With consumers increasingly aware of the negative impact of plastics and chemicals on the world around us, and our commitment to not only manufacturing these paints, but to also providing a personal consultancy service on their use, our growth has been meteoric.
“A year ago, we realised that we’d need to expand our Herefordshire base or risk losing out on both current sales and future growth.”
Emma and her co-director and husband, Edward, had a redundant barn building on their existing property which lent itself perfectly to be converted in to a dedicated production and packaging facility, freeing up the existing building for use solely as meeting and office space. Emma continues:
“Moving to a new location wasn’t an option for us. We had the barn already here and a move would have entailed costs that we weren’t able to finance. When I read about the Marches Building Investment Grant in the Hereford Times, I decided it could provide a solution to us.
“I’m glad I did, as not only was the support and guidance we received invaluable, but we also now have clearly defined areas for each aspect of the business and a welcoming office space in which we can meet with stockists and customers. Without the grant, we’d have undoubtedly lost out on important sales opportunities.”
Emma and Edward have already appointed two additional full-time members of staff, as well as increasing the hours of several existing employees. They’re currently in talks with more applicants and hope to appoint a further two employees soon.
Caroline Cattle, Grant Manager, adds: “Emma and Edward established EBNP at a time when not only did consumers become more discerning about their interior design needs, but also more conscious of the environmental impact that their decorating choices could have. They have, consequently, enjoyed significant growth.
“However, wishing to stay true to the ethos of their business and committed to their Herefordshire base, they were determined to realise expansion in a way that didn’t compromise either. I am delighted to have supported them through their grant application and to witnessing their progress.”
The £2.5m Marches Building Investment Grant is open to businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. Councillor David Harlow who holds portfolio responsibility for economic growth across Herefordshire adds: “Herefordshire is home to a diverse mix of businesses. To count amongst those, such a market-leading and visionary player within the home décor market, is fantastic. I wish Emma and Edward all the best for the continued growth of their business.”
Speaking on behalf of the Marches LEP, Director Gill Hamer, concludes: “The difference that the Marches Building Investment Grant is making to businesses in the region cannot be underestimated. It’s allowing businesses to remain here whilst enjoying growth and creating jobs. Anyone who has wondered if it might transform their own business should seek further information whilst there remains time – all projects must be completed by August 2019.”
Open to all B2B businesses, the scheme awards grants of up to 45% of the total project costs (to a maximum £100,000) which are intended to cover conversion and alteration costs. They cannot be used towards purchasing property, equipment, or ‘excessive’ landscaping costs. Nor can they be made retrospectively.
Applicants to the Marches Building Investment Grant can be either owner-occupiers or tenants although for the latter, they must have a fixed term lease with at least six years unexpired.
Residential property is exempt as are agricultural, horticultural, retail and hospitality buildings.
The scheme is expected to attract up to £3m in private sector investment in the region and lead to the creation of 130 jobs. It has been part funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme, 2014-2020.
Herefordshire Council is the accountable body for the scheme. Full details are available from Caroline Cattle and Alison Rogers on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Marches Growth Hub team on 0345 6000 727.