Sketchbook manufacturer draws on Growth Hub support to boost exports

Support from Sheffield City Region Growth Hub has helped specialist sketchbook, scrapbook and notebook manufacturer Pink Pig to access funding and grow its business in international markets.

Pink Pig was set up 25 years ago by Yorkshire print maker Nick Wilson and has grown into a major online supplier of handmade sketch and drawing books to schools, colleges and individuals. Its 9,000+ range of books are used by art students across the world.

The Barnsley-based company approached Sheffield City Region Growth Hub for advice on export, with a particular focus on the European market.

With support from one of the Growth Hub’s Business Growth Specialists Jo Flanagan, Nick and his team developed a financial and strategic plan which has helped them to grow export sales in both Europe and the US, mostly via Amazon.

Funding of £200,000 was secured with support from the Growth Hub’s Access to Finance service, which signposted to bank finance and investment through Finance for Enterprise. The funding has enabled the purchase of new specialist machines and manufacturing systems improvements to support the growth strategy. The Growth Hub also helped Pink Pig to access a £5,000 grant from the Department for International Trade to explore opportunities in new overseas markets.

As a result, Pink Pig has been able to take on six new staff members and turnover has grown from £1 million in 2016 to a forecast of £1.6 million in 2017.

Further Growth Hub support is now focusing on improving Pink Pig’s staffing structures and remuneration packages with expertise provided by an external professional services provider.

Pink Pig managing director Nick Wilson said: “The support we had from the Growth Hub has meant we have been able to change our trading and cash generating pattern. The academic market is a big part of our business but can be quite seasonal due to school holidays.

“Our retail market is growing both in the UK and Europe, primarily Germany which is our first focused area in Europe, followed by France, Italy and Spain. The growth in the retail market online has brought us our main growth as the educational sector is quite stagnant due to restrictions in budgets, but we are still the market leader within the education market.”

“Our revenue is up dramatically and we’ve been able to grow the team. Growth Hub support has helped us to realise our ambitions to export more and develop our product lines. Crucially, they advised us around costing products in new overseas markets and making sure these were built into our forward plan.”

Click here for the Pink Pig website.

The Sheffield City Region Growth Hub works with businesses large and small to achieve their goals. If your business is based in the Sheffield City Region and is looking to grow, contact the Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or send an email.