Grafea make a range of high-end leather bags, rucksacks and satchels for luxury markets in Italy, China, Russia and America from their site in Dukinfield in Tameside, Manchester. Their work with the Business Growth Hub and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) has seen turnover double in the space of two years.
As the popularity of their products grew, directors Yanni and Charis Kioupouroglou recognised the need for a significant expansion programme, including the purchase of new equipment so they could increase production capacity and meet the growing demand.
The company first contacted the Business Growth Hub for help and advice on ways to fund this new equipment. They have since worked with a number of Hub services, who have not only helped them to implement their growth strategy but smoothed the way into new, bigger premises, too.
Initially, Adrian Wilkinson, one of the Hub’s textiles experts, helped the company with an application to the Textiles Growth Programme, which led to an award of over £52,000 towards the costs of the £184,000 project. Grafea used the funds to buy additional sewing and ancillary equipment, which helped them to branch out into new markets, including clients such as Harrods and leading online retailer ASOS.
The business also worked with the Access to Finance team who helped them to negotiate a commercial mortgage of £240,000 on their new premises and a £30,000 loan to refinance their assets.
The Hub were able to supply the company with the digital support they needed to develop a new multi-site e-commerce platform, too. It includes the latest online payment facilities and the option to use US Dollars, which has helped to further increase Grafea’s international reach.
The company have also worked alongside Hub partner, UKTI, to focus on international markets; China, Russia, Canada and America. They referred Grafea to an intellectual property specialist in Shanghai to resolve some ongoing problems with this in China and provided guidance on online retailing in foreign markets.
In total, eleven new jobs have been created and the company has moved to new premises in Dukinfield, significantly increasing production capacity and allowing the company to target further export growth. This will primarily be via e-commerce, which in turn is likely to lead to further investment and local job opportunities.
As a result of the work with the Hub and UKTI, the company’s sales have doubled, with international sales growing tenfold in the same period.
Charis Kioupouroglou commented “I would highly recommend the Business Growth Hub and UKTI to anyone running a business. Any questions you have, they can answer. Their support in accessing finance and grants, and practical help with exporting and our website, has been pivotal in growing the business.”
“Grafea are a great example of a successful UK based textile business on the rise."