Published: Oct 24, 2016
Focus: Growth Capital
The Greater Manchester Loan Fund, managed by Maven, has supported Bury-based UK Creative Media Limited (UKCM) with a funding package which will enable the business to accelerate the roll-out of its personalised card and gift franchises.
UKCM has developed ‘Creation Express’, a range of innovative units through which customers can create, within minutes, fully personalised cards and gifts, including ceramics such as mugs, money boxes and candle holders and which are sold to local high street stores including card and gift shops and local convenience stores.
The units have the infrastructure required to complete the whole production process including printers and heat pressers. Consumers upload pictures from devices such as mobile phones, SD cards, or USB drives and via social media such as Facebook, and craft their designs on a user-friendly touch screen which has UKCM’s software in-built. Rather than having to wait for delivery, the item is completed there and then, with the whole process taking a matter of minutes.
To date, personalised products have primarily been reserved for online retailers, however Creation Express is exploiting a gap in the market and bringing a similar service to high street stores. UKCM’s units are enabling independent stores to tap into the growing trend towards personalised bespoke cards and gifts. By using blank stock the unit also removes space, cash and stock issues which regularly plague small retailers, allowing them to cater for all calendar occasions and not just larger events like Valentine’s Day or Christmas.
In less than a year UKCM has sold its franchises into almost 200 retail outlets and following today’s announcement of GMLF funding it is targeting to sell 1,000 units, in the UK, within five years.
The franchise network will also be supported by a consumer website: www.creationexpress.co.uk which will offer hundreds of unique, personalised cards and gifts for home delivery and offering the only same day click and collect service in the UK whereby customers are able to collect their items from a local store.
Alex Rothwell, Investment Manager at Maven, said: “UK Creative Media is a fast growing, innovative company which has successfully identified a gap in the market and is bringing the concept of personalised greetings cards and gifts that began life online to the high street, with great success to date. Today’s investment means that the company will be able to further invest in its existing workforce in the Greater Manchester area with the potential to increase the number of jobs at the firm over the next two years and beyond. The GMLF is delighted to support this dynamic business and will continue to look to provide funding for other SMEs in the Greater Manchester area that are looking to expand in this way.”
Kurt Abbott, Co-Owner of UKCM, added: "We are proud to be part of a fantastic community of independent retailers who can offer these unique products and look forward to helping many more thanks to the investment from Greater Manchester Loan Fund.”