A Consett-based print firm has its sights on £1m turnover within the next four years following a £130,000 investment and move to larger premises.
Design X-Press Ltd, which is run by Juliette Middlebrough, has received a £25,000 unsecured loan from UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business support vehicle.
The investment coincides with three new contracts for the firm which has been supplying large format print products such as posters, leaflets and exhibitions stands since 1995.
The nine-strong team already supply the likes of Thorntons, The Co-operative, and Nandos, as well as local authorities and government departments.
New work and the arrival of a second flat-bed printer and flat-bed automated cutting system at the firm’s new Consett, Number One Industrial Estate, is expected to create six jobs over the next 12 months.
Ms Middlebrough said: “Acquiring our first flat-bed printer allowed us to be much more competitive on price, to bid for bigger contracts and move into new areas such as cut-outs, signage and display boxes.
“We soon realised we needed another printer and a cutter to meet the growing demand.
“We now have more space, a very efficient work-flow area and ideal access for deliveries and despatch. The two new contracts are for thousands of roll-top exhibition banners and both came just as we moved. We have also just secured a further two-year contract with our local authority for large format products and a new two-year contract for signage.
“The support from UK Steel Enterprise has been fantastic and the unsecured loan was crucial to our expansion plans. The whole process was very thorough but also speedy.”
Design X-Press was also supported by the Regional Growth Fund, through Lombard Asset Finance, and the government-funded Growth Accelerator programme.
Ms Middlebrough added: “We need to keep investing in equipment, systems and our workforce to stay competitive, and we already plan to develop the e-commerce side further. I have been through some difficult times but I am very proud of the business and feel we are now in an excellent position to concentrate on growth.
“We have two ISO accreditations and new automated systems in place although we will never lose the personal touch. Whether a client spends a few pounds or several thousands with us they get the best personal service we can provide.”
Sarah Thorpe of UK Steel Enterprise, said: “Design X-Press has an excellent customer base and reputation as well as a strong niche position with food retailers. Expansion was vital to meet the demand from existing customers and to move into new markets and we were happy to provide support.”