Co Durham firms double up to boost entrepreneurial growth

March 9, 2016 @ 13:26 by Alison Cowie

A cost management specialist has joined forces with a new business support firm in a bid to develop business start-ups

Seaham-based Great Annual Savings Group and Full Circle North East in Peterlee have formed a strategic alliance that will see them offer a range of support services to fledgling business start-ups.

Full Circle, which was launched recently by cousins Kirsty Campbell and Leanne Knight, will provide advice on grants, training and employment as well as general business support. Meanwhile, GAS will look to find ways of reducing companies’ variable costs, which include utility bills, insurance, fire safety and telecommunications.

The move is designed to boost entrepreneurship in the region, encourage more people to launch their own business and increase the business start-up rate in the North East. According to the latest official Business Population Estimates, the region had 629 private businesses per 10,000 resident adults last year – the lowest in the country, 399 short of the national average and a 10% fall on the previous year.

Bradley Groves, chief executive and chairman of Great Annual Savings Group, said: “Business start-up rates across the North East are far too low – and even lower in areas such as East Durham, which has suffered from high unemployment. Starting a business is a step into the unknown and the fear factor may prevent several capable entrepreneurs from taking the plunge.

“Our alliance with Full Circle aims to address this issue by providing the necessary support so that these entrepreneurs don’t feel so alone when they take their first steps.”

Kirsty Campbell, co-founder of Full Circle, said: “We launched the company because we felt that there isn’t enough accessible advice out there for people in our area, including those who want to set up a business. GAS can offer services that we can’t, so it made sense to team up with them to offer a more comprehensive support package to entrepreneurs who need it.

“The aim is to focus on East Durham initially and then expand the service to all areas of the North East.”

As well as providing business support, Full Circle also offers advice and guidance on a range of non-corporate issues including childcare, housing and health and well-being. The company has now moved into new offices (pictured) at The Old Brewery Business Centre, Castle Eden, to facilitate their intentions of working with more partners.

GAS helps businesses reduce their variable costs and save money in a range of areas including energy procurement, energy and water cost management, fire safety, telecoms and insurance. The company is preparing to bring six more services to market to increase its ability to save money for clients.

GAS has built up a portfolio of more than 950 customers, which include Ramside Hall Hotel & Golf Club, food service distributor Tyneside Foodservices and the Parkmore Hotel in Eaglescliffe. The company is currently driving forward a major expansion plan that has seen the firm treble staff numbers to more than 100 since June 2015. The aim now is to increase headcount to 150 by June 2016.

On Thursday, March 17 GAS is hosting a recruitment fair at Virgin Active in Sunderland in a bid to fill some of these vacancies, which include a range of outbound sales roles. Interested parties can drop into the venue any time on that day between 9am and 9pm.

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