Doncaster business plays to its strengths

With more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in the soft play manufacturing industry, Doncaster-based House of Play was ready to take its next steps towards growth.

Feeling that expansion was always just out of reach, director Kevin Bowles knew he’d need a little help to realise his ambitions.

However, a chance conversation led to him hearing of the business support on offer from Business Doncaster, a partner of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Enhancement Project, whose support had the potential to open new doors for the soft play equipment manufacturer.

The Enhancement Project is financed by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The first step for the business was to speak to Business Doncaster Key Account Manager, Sue Harrison, about his vision for the future.

“It was fantastic”, Kevin said.

“Sue immediately got to know our current operation, delved into what we needed and understood what avenues could be available for us.”

Those avenues included everything from financial assistance to recruitment advice and sales tips to networking opportunities.

It was getting extra confidence that arguably made the biggest difference, though.

“The support from Business Doncaster helped us think like a bigger business right away, allowing us to review our processes and make some real improvements to our systems”, Kevin said.

House of Play has already seen the rewards of using Business Doncaster’s support.

It has invested in new equipment with help from grant funding and been able to take on more staff.

In fact, its workforce has doubled – a significant growth that has created new jobs for the local economy.

Turnover has soared as a result, too.

Kevin added: “Before investment, we were achieving around £750k turnover per annum.

“Since investment, that figure has risen to more than £1.4m – so you can see how we have exceeded all our targets.”

House of Play is not going to rest on its laurels, though.

Kevin said: “We are still growing and growing, and still working with Business Doncaster.

“I would definitely recommend that other firms looking to grow get in touch with Business Doncaster like I did.

“It made all the difference.”

The Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Enhancement Project is receiving up to £2.7m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.