Signage company A2B Signs and Graphics is conquering new markets and creating jobs following a £50,000 loan from tyre-giant Michelin.
The cash injection – which has been match funded by a grant from Stoke-on-Trent City Council through Grants for Growth programme – has enabled the Stoke-on-Trent-based firm to make a £150,000 investment in a new state-of-the-art finishing table.
The technology means A2B can now produce larger-format printed materials on almost any substrate – allowing it to reach new customers in the UK and overseas.
As a result, the business expects turnover to reach more than £1.2 million – and staff numbers to almost double from 13 people to 25 – over the next three years.
A2B Signs and Graphics specialises in bespoke signage, vehicle and fleet livery, wide format print, exhibition displays and labels.
James Machin, who started the company after he left Staffordshire University in 2007, said: “The new machine is transforming our business and enabling us to do much more for our clients.
“We are now working across the length and breadth of the UK and Northern Ireland and we’ve also won work in the Middle East.
“The support we have had from Michelin Development has helped make this all possible.”
The Michelin Development Fund was set up in 2004 to help small and medium-sized businesses grow.
The scheme offers subsidised, unsecured loans of up to £50,000 for projects with the potential to create high-quality, sustainable jobs.
Mike Cole, head of Michelin Development, is keen to hear from other North Staffordshire businesses.
He said: “James is a true entrepreneur and he is now in a position to really power forward.
“This particular loan has been even more satisfying because we collaborated with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, who sit on our Michelin Development steering committee, and match-funded their grant offer.
“The early release of the Michelin funds meant we were able to help cover the gap in the cashflow between James purchasing the machine and receiving the grant.
“A2B Signs and Graphics is a great example of a business looking to expand, create jobs and support the local economy as a whole.”
Mike added: “Our message to other small businesses on the same footing is that we are here to help.
“We have the funds in place, but we need to receive applications to deliver this support and investment in our community.
“The companies we can help know their markets and figures – they just need a little extra support to move along on their growth journey. That is where we can step in.”
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