April 30, 2021 @ 17:46 by Steven Hugill
A business support organisation says “there are some real positives to take” despite the COVID-19 pandemic after helping a number of entrepreneurs launch and grow enterprises.
East Durham Business Service bosses have hailed its “resilience and determination”, which has helped new companies take their first steps, supported others to move into the town’s Novus Business Centre, and played a pivotal role in existing tenants’ growth.
One new addition has been e-commerce operator Rogers and Rogers, which works with online retailers to grow their digital presence and increase sales online.
The company was launched by husband-and-wife Andrew and Kimberley Rogers in 2017, who decided to move into Novus Business Centre earlier this year after outgrowing their home office.
Andrew said: “Novus Business Centre was the perfect environment for us to grow our business.”
The first few months of 2021, most of which were spent in the third national lockdown, have also proved fruitful for long-term tenant LEC Communications and Design, which moved into Novus Business Centre in 2013.
Founder Leanne English, a former business journalist, said: “After what was undoubtedly a challenging 2020, I’m delighted to say the first four months of this year have been really good for us, with several new businesses coming on board and existing clients increasing the support they receive from us.
“I’m now looking forward and feel optimistic the growth projections I put in place at the start of last year are once again achievable.”
East Durham Business Service has also helped several entrepreneurs launch their own businesses during the pandemic, including Peterlee mum-of-two Aiysha Homer, who founded Dreadsrock; Amy Speckman, from Murton, who set up Sweetie Treats; and Melissa Pigford, who launched Material Mel Creations, which makes eco-friendly bags, in December 2020.
Melissa, 30, from Peterlee, said: “I’ve always had a feeling I’d end up starting my own creative business.
“My background is a mix of fine art, textiles and costume design, so I have a wide variety of skills that blend really well with making eco-friendly bags and accessories.
“My adviser was Hina Joshi, who was great in working with me to develop a business plan and review all elements of running a business.”
The new-start support offered by East Durham Business Service is delivered through the Enterprise Support in the North East programme, through the European Regional Development Fund.
Denise Fielding, operations director at East Durham Business Service, said: “There’s no denying it’s been a tough 12 months for the business community, but there are some real positives to take too.
“That’s testament to our resilience and determination.
“Even when the chips are down, we have remained committed to doing what we do best – nurturing business growth and helping new starts launch.”