Flapjack overdrive thanks to Duplex Fund support
"The Duplex Fund is a great example of collaborative working by ourselves and our partners, all pulling together to support small businesses and the local economy."
A family-run commercial bakery in Exhall has invested a six-figure sum in machinery to increase its flapjack output thanks to innovative support from the Duplex Investment Fund which is funded by Warwickshire County Council.
Handmade Speciality Products, set-up in 1987 and taken over by the Raeburn family in 2009, produces millions of muffins, cookies, flapjacks, gingerbread, traybakes and cakes each year at its base in Blackhorse Road.
Around 120 full-time employees, plus between 10 to 50 agency staff, are involved in making their products for customers ranging from schools and universities to retailers and wholesalers across the UK.
The forward-thinking business contacted Laura Delahunty at the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub to find out if there was any support available towards buying new factory processing equipment for their flapjack production. Laura put sales director James Raeburn in touch with Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) who suggested the Duplex Investment Fund, an innovative funding scheme that offers a loan and a grant in one.
The Duplex Fund provides support to businesses looking to expand by investing in capital equipment with a loan, and then a 40 per cent grant is reimbursed once the item has been purchased. It is an initiative delivered by CWRT and funded by Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, Midlands Engine and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
James said Handmade Speciality Products wouldn’t have been able to buy the new machinery without the support of the Growth Hub and CWRT.
He said: “The machinery investment will give us a new level of automation at the front end of our flapjack manufacturing process and is something we have wanted to do for a long time. The business is built upon being truly handmade on a scaled-up level and we have grown significantly over the last few years.
“Flapjacks have been a significant category of growth and to increase our output we have been looking at various options for automation. This machine will put the flapjack ingredients into a set tray and we will then take over by hand. We have carried out a number of trials with the manufacturer and we believe it will increase our capacity significantly when it arrives in the spring. The equipment will also enable us to upskill our workers in the factory which is positive for our long-term growth. We will still need the same amount of people on the production line but there is so much more that they can be doing with their skills.
“We have worked with the Growth Hub for quite a while because being a privately-owned family business any support is appreciated and Laura’s advice has been key for our progress.
“We were not aware of programmes like the Duplex Investment Fund and wouldn’t have been able to facilitate this investment without the loan and grant. We are on a journey of growth working closely with the Growth Hub who have been a massive help.”
Laura Delahunty, Business Navigator at Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said: “We have worked with Handmade Speciality Products on a number of projects and this addition to their factory will mean they are able to produce higher volumes, increase and upskill staff and streamline their processes.
“We are here to make businesses in all sectors aware of the support that is available to assist their growth and make it as easy as possible to complete the application forms.”
Sheridan Sulskis, CEO at CWRT, said: “It is a privilege to be part of Handmade Speciality Products’ growth journey by empowering them with the right type of financial support to take their business to the next level. Investing in the success of our local businesses isn't just a choice; it's a commitment by CWRT to building a thriving foundation for shared prosperity and a brighter, interconnected future. We would encourage any business based in Coventry or Warwickshire to reach out to find out how we can help support their growth aspirations.”
Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: "It is always exciting to see a small business grow and fulfil its potential and I am delighted that Handmade Speciality Products is doing exactly that with support from the Duplex Investment Fund. The Duplex Fund is a great example of collaborative working by ourselves and our partners, all pulling together to support small businesses and the local economy."
To find out more about CWRT’s services call 02476 551 777 or visit www.cwrt.uk.com/