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A Lancaster-based luxury goods manufacturer has ramped up production and doubled its turnover following game-changing investment into new equipment.

Tinbox Angel, which makes handcrafted leather handbags and accessories, went from ‘losing business’ to reaching ‘the next level’ after receiving funding from the Manufacturing Growth Fund.

Founder Amanda Gallagher said the larger volumes have enabled the business to expand into the corporate market for the first time, an area she plans to grow in 2021.

Amanda, who was inspired after inheriting her late mother’s sewing machine, established the business in 2014.

She said: “I started off with a workshop at home, making a variety of fabric products. I began to focus on leather and saw there was clearly a demand for the products: every time I made a leather handbag it would sell out quickly.

“As the business expanded, I moved out from the workshop at home to one in town. This allowed for more space, but also means that customers – when COVID restrictions permit – can come in and have a look too.

“Making handcrafted bags takes time, as everything is created from scratch, and leather is a hard material to work with. Customers wanted products faster, and waiting five weeks was too long.

“I knew early on that I was at capacity, so I had to make the decision to somehow produce more. My market was there, but I was losing business because people wanted items quicker.”

Amanda, who sells the products on her website and via Etsy, sought business support from Steve Wilkinson, Manufacturing Advisor from the Lancashire Manufacturing Growth Fund, after meeting him at the Growing Club makers event organised by Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub.

She successfully applied for a £4,688 Manufacturing Growth Fund grant – which was match funded – to help buy a laser cutter, clicker press and embosser.

The new equipment has not only allowed her to make products faster and increase volume, but, she says, it has taken “the products to the next level”.

Amanda’s husband has also joined the business full time to help with marketing and she is looking to take on additional staff.

Amanda said: “As Tinbox Angel is growing, we are also targeting new customers, including those in the corporate market. We have recently supplied our first corporate order for a local hotelier who wanted to thank his staff for their hard work through the pandemic. We made him a range of personalised bags for 30 staff.

“We see the corporate market as a strong revenue driver, and we couldn’t have done this without the new equipment. As a result, we have also seen our turnover double since increasing our production, which has given us greater confidence for 2021.”

Steve Wilkinson, Manufacturing Advisor from the Lancashire Manufacturing Growth Fund, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Amanda. She shows such passion for her products, matched only by her ambition.

“Making that transition from producing small volumes to larger volumes is hard enough, but maintaining the integrity of the product and that critical level of quality is a real challenge, and Amanda has managed it very well.

“I’m delighted that the Manufacturing Growth Fund could help her with this game-changing grant – and I have no doubt that she will continue to be successful.”

The Manufacturing Growth Fund is looking to support new projects with manufacturers across the North West. If you have a new project valued up to £24,999 it can contribute a grant of 36%. For more information visit https://www.manufacturingnorthwest.com/ or call 0161 359 3050.

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