Funding for Flexilabels
With a commercial background in computer sciences and a Masters degree in Website Design & Development, Assad Gilani worked for about 5 years, for a toner refurbishment and then an insurance company as web developer after he moved from Pakistan to the United Kingdom in 2006.
Assad enjoyed this work but at the back of his mind, he always wanted to set up his own business and in 2012 he formally setup the company and developed his website flexilabels.co.uk. He set about developing his establishments from his home with only investment of £2000 he could afford, working with his wife who also left her job to support his decision. They moved to commercial premises two years later and invested in production and printing equipment to grow their product range, employ staff and to take their business forward.
The business expanded steadily, employing 15 people and in 2018 it moved to the current premises in Fengate, Peterborough and started to produce wall graphics and vehicle wraps in addition to his core products of personalised self-adhesive labels and stickers. Unfortunately, in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business dropped significantly, forcing him to pivot the business to focus towards only supplying of DIY kits for customers, without an installation service.
Looking for opportunities to attract investment to help the business build further following the pandemic, Assad was referred to Growth Works. Working with an advisor, Assad applied for a revenue grant and a Capital Expenditure (Cap EX) grant and was successful with both. “The revenue grant was to help improve our branding and design, to mark the 10th anniversary of the company, including new signage and an office re-brand. It also covered the cost of a new website as I no longer had time to work on this myself,” explained Assad.
He worked with a local marketing agency on the branding, and he describes the process as “transformational”, helping him to focus on the core values and proposition of the business, a mission statement and the marketing milestones required to meet their objectives for growth.
The Cap Ex grant enabled the purchase of new machinery to improve efficiency and enable the company to produce more complicated labels. “The grant money from Growth Works was vital in helping us to address some of the challenges we faced and give us better quality control on the final product,” stated Assad.
The company is now better positioned to supply to larger contracts including existing popular candle brands, Eurostar, Tesco, the NHS, Fitness First and the BBC amongst its clients. These sit alongside the provision of a quality service to smaller businesses which Assad is proudly committed to helping, being an entrepreneur himself. “Lots of people started companies in their homes during the lockdowns, just as I had done years before and I wanted to help them succeed.”
“I would encourage other businesses to apply for the grant funding from Growth Works as the advice and support you receive is fantastic. The process can look off-putting at the start but in reality, the business plan and financial documents required are invaluable to your business and are certainly worth working on.”
The business now has a team of fully trained staff, backed with £400,000 investment in 2022-2023 in embellishment equipment and automation software, Assad is feeling confident about the company’s future. Now that the initial branding project has been completed, Assad is starting work on a new revenue grant application to help cover the costs of working with the marketing agency on a digital campaign to grow their customer base and build the profile of the company locally and nationally. “The market we operate in is very competitive and it is crucial to your success that we maintain and build on our reputation for a quality and reliable service to our customers – the grant money we have received has been fundamental to achieving that.”