North West bags BT Business Champion

BT today announced the latest company to join its ‘BT Business Champions’ programme – Keswick-based bag manufacturer, Millican. 

Selected because of his clear vision towards the business and his clever use of technology, the company’s managing director, Jorrit Jorritsma, will join the growing list of Champions from across the UK who share what they have learnt in setting up and running their own businesses. 

The idea behind the programme is to help other company owners achieve their business goals and inspire those who are thinking about starting off on their own, with regular Q&As, comments and articles in the local and business press, as well as online advice videos and local ‘business surgeries’. 

Other BT Business Champions include north east interior furnishings specialist Pins & Ribbons’ managing director Kerrie Murray and Richard Phillips, CEO at outsourced secretarial services provider OutSec. 
Founded in 2008 by Jorrit and his wife Nicky, and named after Lakeland adventurer Millican Dalton, Millican designs and manufactures bags and accessories for business and leisure, based on a clear ethos of sustainability and quality. 

The company’s ultimate goal is to build a commercially successful, sustainable brand, so its team takes an uncompromising view on ethics, fair-trading and humanitarian interests. As a result, it sources and develops sustainable materials from across the world, and works with a small group of specialists that supply materials and manufacture Millican’s products. 

Traditional values lie at the heart of the company, but technology is central to the business – both for communication and as a channel to market. The management team keeps in touch with its staff, suppliers and manufacturers via email and video conferencing – whether they’re a few miles down the road at the warehouse in Kendal or across the other side of the world in the USA and Far East – which helps make communication more effective. 

The internet also provides a direct channel to customers, with homeofmillican.com accounting for more than 60 per cent of its sales, of which 30 per cent come from outside of the UK. 

Jorrit Jorritsma, managing director, Millican, said: “We created Millican the brand – and named it after an original Lakeland legend who lived a self-sufficient life in a cave – because we look to inspire others to follow their dreams and live their own original lives. To achieve this dream as a contemporary business, technology has been central to our success. It has allowed us to find and work with partners and suppliers who are true to our ethos, and has also allowed us to sell our bags and accessories directly to customers across the world.” 

Danny Longbottom, managing director, SME, BT Business, said: “So often smaller businesses are forgotten in the story of UK success, but they are a real driving force in the economy. It’s essential that we support and champion these businesses to help them grow. By working with interesting and successful businesses like Millican, we’re highlighting what can be achieved by people with a great idea, and inspiring the next wave of business owners.” 

The latest BT Business Champion was announced at the International Festival of Business 2014, of which BT is a lead sponsor, and highlights its support of its around 900,000 business customers in the UK.