July 2022


Support programme helps Nuneaton sisters plan for growth

“From where we were to where we are now is amazing and Rita has helped us more than she will ever know."

Two sisters with a wealth of experience in the construction industry have celebrated their Nuneaton business’s first anniversary by planning for future growth.

Lisa and Julie Cartwright established Access Panel Shop at the Pool Road Business Centre in Pool Road in June 2021.

The flourishing business is a stockist and distributor of access panels for the construction industry for walls and ceilings with a wide range of standard and bespoke products.

Access Panel Shop was set-up after the sisters were made redundant at the same time and they approached the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce for assistance.

This led to the Chamber providing free support on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, through the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Warwickshire County Council and all five District and Borough Councils.

Lisa and Julie were assigned Rita Booth as their business coach and she provided free start-up business support through workshops and one-to-one coaching, which includes everything from advice on marketing through to business planning.

This has helped the sisters to establish a UK-wide network of customers from London to Scotland as well as closer to home – and plans are underway to launch an e-commerce website this autumn.

Julie said the Chamber’s support had been crucial in getting the business off to the right start.

She said: “We have over 40 years’ experience between us in the construction industry so when we were both made redundant, it was only natural to set-up a business in this sector because we know the products and the industry. It is in our DNA.

“Having our own business has given us greater financial freedom and an opportunity to make our own decisions and the first 12 months has flown by. In the last week, we have driven 1,000 miles to make site visits and deliveries and the customers we have built up have been brilliant because we can supply one item or hundreds depending on their requirements.”

Lisa added that the Chamber has been really supportive of Access Panel Shop’s plans every step of the way.

“It can be daunting launching a new business but Rita has really helped us with our confidence as well as practical advice,” she said. “From where we were to where we are now is amazing and Rita has helped us more than she will ever know.

“She has also provided help with our online e-commerce site which is nearly ready to be launched where we will be selling our standard products because when it comes to the ordering of specialised products, we prefer to speak to our customers to make sure everything is just right.

“We also have an upcoming expansion of our range including roof and floor access panels plus the development of a new product in the future.

“From attending Chamber events, we have started going to women in construction events which we think is really important because we want more women to consider this as a career option.

“The sector is definitely changing because when we go on site visits now there are more women there which is really encouraging for the future.”

Rita Booth, Business Coach at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said she wanted to encourage other SMEs like the Access Panel Shop to become involved in the start-up programme.

She said: “The funding for this programme finishes in June 2023 and the help and information available is really important for new businesses.

“When I first met Lisa and Julie it took a few sessions to formulate a plan to make the most of all their experience in the construction industry.

“We put together a strategy to target national companies first and they are now starting to attract more business in Coventry and Warwickshire.”

Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “I am delighted that the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme has proved so beneficial to Lisa and Julie. The positive way they responded to having been made redundant themselves is an inspiring example of the enterprise and adaptability that we see in so many of Warwickshire's wonderful small businesses. It is great that the programme has helped them so much.”

The Chamber has a range of support for start-up businesses, whether you want to make your business idea a reality, or require advice on how to build your new businesses. For more information, please visit www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/business-start-up/


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