Malton business helps superfast North Yorkshire reach major milestone

Sportswear business is sprinting ahead after becoming 1000th firm to complete innovative business support programme 

A Malton-based firm is set to transform the way it does business thanks to Superfast North Yorkshire.

New sportswear company Pro-Am Kits Ltd has taken on its first employee and adopted a digital business strategy to expand into a host of new online markets across the UK.

Pro-Am Kits is the latest business to go through a specially tailored programme – run by the Superfast North Yorkshire project - offering free business support and advice on a variety of topics designed to help businesses harness the potential of high speed fibre broadband.

It also marks an important milestone for the Superfast North Yorkshire Business Support Programme as Pro-Am Kits is the 1000th small business to complete the training since the scheme launched in January 2013.

Managing Director, Dan Hodgson, 34, says completing the programme marked the beginning of a new chapter for the sportswear company.

Dan said: “It has been just about a month since I completed the course and already I’ve seen a real impact on the business and been able to take on my first member of staff. The programme helped us to develop a new digital business strategy and launch an online marketing campaign which is really making a difference and helping to attract new customers.”

Dan signed up to the scheme in March to learn more about social media and digital marketing, and says that, already, the company is starting to reap the benefits.

He said: “A real eye opener for me was how managing your business reputation online can help to boost sales. They were able to show us effective ways of promoting the business online - spending just 15 minutes a day – using different social media, like LinkedIn, Twitter and our own website.”

“One of the key things the course taught me was the importance of using online media and our website to create trust in our brand and having a strong online identity. This meant creating things like a blog for the website, posting testimonials and posting videos to promote interaction with customers. The end result is customers come looking for you rather than you having to go looking for them.”

Taking part in the Business Support Programme has given Dan’s business a further boost as he was eligible for a £700 grant for completing the scheme.

“The grant we have been awarded has really helped kick start our strategy and put us six months ahead of where we thought we would be,” Dan said.

Dan is also looking forward to further enhancing his business when he is able to connect up to superfast broadband in the coming weeks.

“Having high-speed broadband definitely removes the barriers to doing business in the digital world like online trading and helps put you on an equal footing with larger businesses. But you also need the skills to exploit these new virtual markets, to sell new products and to try new models. That is the competitive edge that the Business Support Programme was able to give us,” said Dan.

Work on the Superfast North Yorkshire project is well underway across the county
with around 600 homes and businesses signing up to superfast broadband each week and more than 40,000 premises already using a high-speed fibre broadband service.

Business Advisor Amanda Rowen, who worked closely with Dan to help him find the best classes and courses to benefit his business, said: “The experience of Pro-Am Kits is typical of many of the local firms who go through the programme. What the programme demonstrates is that technology isn’t just for the creative industries, but that new online ways of working can benefit everyone – and all of them are made better and easier with the use of faster fibre broadband.”

Amanda added: “As the rollout of fibre gathers pace the issue is becoming less about whether or not a small business has access to the right technology and tools
and more about how best they can use them as they become more widely available.”

Eligible companies (based on size, primary activity, turnover etc) can receive a wealth of support and advice aimed at helping their businesses to grow through better use of technology.

A series of workshops, masterclasses and one-to-one business advice is on offer – and it’s free.

Amanda urged other businesses to follow Pro-Am’s example and get in touch with the programme to find out how they could benefit. The programme aims to attract 2,100 businesses to the scheme by June 2015.

North Yorkshire businesses wanting to find out more and to check whether they are eligible for the Business Support Programme should call 0845 0020021, email enquiries@sfny.co.uk or visit www.sfny.co.uk

The Superfast North Yorkshire project was the first in the UK to deploy fibre broadband using Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds following the signing of a £36.4m contract led by North Yorkshire County Council and BT in July last year. It builds on BT’s commercial fibre investment so that 90 per cent of North Yorkshire’s 380,000 homes and businesses will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2014.

The high-speed network installed by Openreach is available on an open, wholesale basis to all communication providers, therefore offering North Yorkshire households and businesses the benefit of real choice from a highly competitive market.

The majority of premises in North Yorkshire will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the country via Superfast North Yorkshire and BT’s associated commercial roll-out. The high speed service will boost the competitiveness of local firms and offer new ways of flexible working, entertainment and learning opportunities for local residents.

For further information on the Superfast North Yorkshire programme visit www.superfastnorthyorkshire.com

Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within the selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Alternative solutions for these locations are being investigated.

For further information please contact the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be found at www.btplc.com/news

Photography illustrating the Superfast North Yorkshire project is available here:

Notes to Editors:

Daniel Hodgson, Managing Director,
Pro-Am Kits Ltd.
Mob: 07796142679
Office: 01653 691 777
Email: Daniel.Hodgson@pro-amkits.co.uk
Website: www.Pro-AmKits.co.uk
Address: Prospect Works, Showfield Lane, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6BT

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017;
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities; and
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK),Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life. For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About Superfast North Yorkshire
Superfast North Yorkshire was created in July 2012 following the signing of the contract between North Yorkshire County Council and BT, which will see a total fibre broadband investment in the county expected to reach around £70 million.
North Yorkshire is the first county in the UK successfully to deploy Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds, which will be used to extend the roll-out of faster broadband across the county. The project will reach those areas outside of any commercial roll-out using a partnership approach to ensure all communities have access to the fastest possible broadband speeds.
The Superfast North Yorkshire project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf