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Malton Sportswear Firm Set for Online Boost


3:39pm 3rd June 2014

A Malton-based firm is set to transform the way it does business thanks to Superfast North Yorkshire.

New sportswear company Pro-Am Kits Ltd has taken on its first employee and adopted a digital business strategy to expand into a host of new online markets across the UK.      

Pro-Am Kits is the latest business to go through a specially tailored programme – run by the Superfast North Yorkshire project - offering free business support and advice on a variety of topics designed to help businesses harness the potential of high speed fibre broadband. 

It also marks an important milestone for the Superfast North Yorkshire Business Support Programme as Pro-Am Kits is the 1000th small business to complete the training since the scheme launched in January 2013.

Managing Director, Dan Hodgson, 34, says completing the programme marked the beginning of a new chapter for the sportswear company.

Dan said: “It has been just about a month since I completed the course and already I’ve seen a real impact on the business and been able to take on my first member of staff. The programme helped us to develop a new digital business strategy and launch an online marketing campaign which is really making a difference and helping to attract new customers.”

Dan signed up to the scheme in March to learn more about social media and digital marketing, and says that, already, the company is starting to reap the benefits.

He said: “A real eye opener for me was how managing your business reputation online can help to boost sales. They were able to show us effective ways of promoting the                                                  business online - spending just 15 minutes a day – using different social media, like LinkedIn, Twitter and our own website.”

“One of the key things the course taught me was the importance of using online media and our website to create trust in our brand and having a strong online identity. This meant creating things like a blog for the website, posting testimonials and posting videos to promote interaction with customers. The end result is customers come looking for you rather than you having to go looking for them.”

Taking part in the Business Support Programme has given Dan’s business a further boost as he was eligible for a £700 grant for completing the scheme. Subject to availability -  while money lasts. Typical average grant £300 to be agreed with business advisor for eligible activities.

“The grant we have been awarded has really helped kick start our strategy and put us six months ahead of where we thought we would be,” Dan said.

Dan is also looking forward to further enhancing his business when he is able to connect up to superfast broadband in the coming weeks.

“Having high-speed broadband definitely removes the barriers to doing business in the digital world like online trading and helps put you on an equal footing with larger businesses. But you also need the skills to exploit these new virtual markets, to sell new products and to try new models. That is the competitive edge that the Business Support Programme was able to give us,” said Dan.

Work on the Superfast North Yorkshire project is well underway across the county, with around 600  homes and businesses signing up to superfast broadband each week and more than 40,000 premises already using  a high-speed fibre broadband service.

Business Advisor Amanda Rowen, who worked closely with Dan to help him find the best classes and courses to benefit his business, said: “The experience of Pro-Am Kits is typical of many of the local firms who go through the programme. What the programme demonstrates is that technology isn’t just for the creative industries, but that new online ways of working can benefit everyone – and all of them are made better and easier with the use of faster fibre broadband.”

Amanda added: “As the rollout of fibre gathers pace the issue is becoming less about whether or not a small business has access to the right technology and tools and more about how best they can use them as they become more widely available.”

Eligible companies (based on size, primary activity, turnover etc) can receive a wealth of support and advice aimed at helping their businesses to grow through better use of technology.

A series of workshops, masterclasses and one-to-one business advice is on offer – and it’s free.

Amanda urged other businesses to follow Pro-Am’s example and get in touch with the programme to find out how they could benefit.  The programme aims to attract 2,100 businesses to the scheme by June 2015.

North Yorkshire businesses wanting to find out more and to check whether they are eligible for the Business Support Programme should call 0845 0020021, email  enquiries@sfny.co.uk or visit www.sfny.co.uk

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