Atherstone Gallery looking ahead with confidence after grant funding
"With all the challenges of the last year, we would not have been able to fund these improvements ourselves so we are very grateful to the county council. The grant has been amazing for us."
A longstanding family business in Atherstone has been "future-proofed" by business support from Warwickshire County Council.
Atherstone Gallery, in Long Street, has been at the heart of the town's business community since 1980. The recently extended gallery offers a selection of artists and genres in addition to stocking a eclectic mix of design-led gifts and homeware.
Like all traders in the retail sector, the gallery was hit hard by the pandemic and its lockdowns. But it is now looking forward with confidence after upgrading vital equipment thanks to funding from the county council's Adapt & Diversify Grants Scheme.
The scheme was created by the council earlier this year in reaction to the pandemic and the adverse impact of the lockdowns on so many businesses. In its first round, it delivered over £600,000 of grant funding to 52 businesses and a second round is set to be similarly productive.
In the case of Atherstone Gallery, the funding enabled the purchase of three new machines which are critical to the everyday running of the business: a roller (to expertly flatten out items brought in for framing), a glass-cutter and an underpinner.
The acquisitions mean that the family firm enters its fifth decade well-equipped to cope with more and bigger orders from customers.
"This funding has future-proofed the business," said director Laura Thursfield. "I think you get to the stage where your equipment is just about doing the job and you sort of get used to getting by. We had reached that stage and the lockdowns gave us time to think and we realised it.
"The new equipment has transformed the business. Picture-framing is the main part of our business and these new machines mean that we can a take on jobs that are a lot bigger - jobs that we would previously have had to turn away.
"We also bought two new laptops and improved our website with the funding. With all the challenges of the last year, we would not have been able to fund these improvements ourselves so we are very grateful to the county council. The grant has been amazing for us."
Warwickshire County Council leader, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: "Small family businesses like Atherstone Gallery are integral to the health of the local economy and communities and I am delighted that this grant support will benefit the gallery not only in the immediate future, but far beyond.
"Throughout the last very challenging year, our Economy & Skills team has sought to ensure that the support they offer evolves to match the changing needs of businesses. The Adapt & Diversify grants scheme is a great example of that and it is very pleasing that so many businesses, like Atherstone Gallery, have been strengthened by it."