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County coffee roaster heads for the 21st century thanks to grant

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A Lancaster coffee roasters and tea merchants, with a history spanning more than 150 years, has been given a boost, with the help of a Lancashire Business Growth Fund grant of £43,035.

J Atkinson & Co, established in Lancaster in 1837, was bought in 2001 by the Steel family which worked hard to transform the business into one of the leading wholesale and retail suppliers of specialist teas and coffees in the North West. 

Using equipment that had to be cannibalised to keep going, the family expanded the range of products available, opened two very popular coffee houses, supplied many of the hotels and restaurants in the region and even provided training ensuring customers serve their coffees in a way guaranteed to bring out the best flavours and taste. 

Sourcing their supplies of green beans directly from several growers, they were restricted by premises which were becoming unfit for purpose and equipment which could not produce the wide variety of coffees they wished to offer. 

After a proposal to the Lancashire Business Growth Fund (LBGF) for help towards the cost of a brand new coffee roaster, computer equipment and building improvements, they have been granted of £43,035, 20% of their eventual outlay. 

Ian Steel (pictured below) said: “This investment allows us to create our own blends of coffee thereby broadening our offer to the businesses of Lancaster and beyond.

“It enables us to alter the building to create the smooth transition from green beans to coffee ready for drinking. It also gives us the opportunity of increasing our workforce by four.” Ian Steel of J Atkinson & Co John Regan, president of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce added: “We are so pleased to support our member with their growth and help them to access this grant.

“I would urge all fellow Lancastrians to talk to the Chambers team to see how this capital investment grant fund may be able to benefit them.”

About the Lancashire Business Growth Fund

The Regional Growth Fund-supported Lancashire Business Growth Fund is a programme offering capital investment grants and international trade support to businesses across the county.

The programme has been launched by the county’s two accredited chambers of commerce – East Lancashire and North and Western Lancashire – in partnership with Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, and is intended to create 600 new jobs and safeguard a further 200. 

Its key aim is to accelerate the creation of sustainable jobs by encouraging companies to bring forward growth projects on a bigger scale with a larger impact at a time when those jobs are most needed. 

Businesses bidding for grants from the scheme can claim up to 20 per cent of the total project costs, with the remaining costs leveraged from the bank or investment. 

To be eligible for the programme, projects must involve the acquisition of new premises, infrastructure, machinery, expansion, or another suitable form of capital investment. 

Businesses are also required to demonstrate how many jobs will be created through the project in order to be accepted on to the scheme.

For more information, contact Stephanie Warrington, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, at s.warrington@chamberelancs.co.uk or 01254 356473  

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