Print business diversifies and reduces waste

Fantasy Prints was founded in 1992 as a shop selling personalised T-shirts. The business gradually expanded its offering as a result of customer requests for printed products including business cards and letterhead.

The business grew and in 2020 it was a one-stop-shop for large format and digital printing including school wear, signage and sportswear, and employed 28 staff.

In March 2020, the business came to a standstill as the impact of the first lockdown hit.

“We provide signage for a lot of major holiday parks and March is usually an extremely busy time for us,” explained Sarah McMorn, Managing Director. “This year, every day meant another email or phone call from a customer cancelling their order, as they were unable to open due to lockdown. We’d already bought the supplies and these were no longer required. We ended up having to furlough our staff and close the business temporarily.”

Fantasy Prints applied for funding from the North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism) – which is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by the Northern Powerhouse – via their accountant and in May were able to redevelop the Fantasy Prints website to offer new products, including stickers and signage that businesses could use to publicise their COVID-related safety measures.

The £3,000 of funding was used to purchase new software which allows the business to diversify into new printed products while also reducing wastage and saving money on materials.

“Diversifying into new product ranges has generated extra income and allowed us to secure jobs,” said Sarah McMorn. “We’re not back to full capacity yet but we’ve been able to bring staff back part time and without this support there would have been redundancies. This new software will also save us a lot of money in the long run and it will also have a good effect on the environment, as it reduces wastage of materials.”

The North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism) is administered by North East Enterprise Agency NBSL

NBSL is approved by BEIS and has achieved the Customer First accreditation. NBSL has a team of experienced business funding advisers who work with people and businesses across the North East to identify solutions that aid development and growth.

NBSL relaunched North East Business Support Fund in 2018. The inaugural round of funding was launched in 2012, since then NBSL has provided funding and support to businesses from an array of sectors spanning all corners of the region with a recent impact report finding that the fund has yielded an impressive £4.40 economic boost for every £1 invested.