An online retailer that sells and celebrates a range of British manufacturers’ products is set for significant growth after receiving support from a programme connected with the University of Warwick Science Park.
Sir Gordon Bennett was established by Stratford-upon-Avon based entrepreneur Dan Colagiovanni, and his business partner Neil Elliot, to offer a platform for high-quality, well-made British products with the goal of promoting more environmentally sustainable shopping, and supporting UK brands.
The pair built the company’s website in 2017 and then made the first sale in December 2018 and interest has continued to grow.
In 2020, the company was on the hunt for investment and met Alex Toft, who heads up the Minerva Angel investor network, facilitated out of the University of Warwick Science Park (UWSP).
Whilst the business ultimately secured funding from a different source Toft, did make the introduction to the Business Ready programme, also delivered by UWSP, and is which financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.
The business has received one-to-one guidance from Business Ready adviser Gaynor Matthews and Dan believes this help will prove invaluable as Sir Gordon Bennett aims to grow by five times over the next year.
Dan said: “Neil and I had been discussing starting a business for some time. Neil has a strong background in advertising and that was going to be key to us building a memorable brand.
“We settled on the idea of really celebrating British manufacturing and craftsmanship. It’s not in any way jingoistic or anti-overseas-products, but recognition that when you go abroad, people have a real respect for high-quality British-made goods – more so than we do in this country.
“On top of that, we wanted to get back to some of the principles that guided our grandparents where they would make a sustainable choice based on quality not price. We could help the move away from disposable retail that has become the norm in recent years.
“The website gives a platform to manufacturers and makers from all corners of the country and with a whole range of items, from clothing to accessories and from homeware to garden products.
“We now have more than 90 brands online and hundreds of products. The ambition is to open physical stores because many of the things we sell are very tactile and we want customers to be able to touch and feel them.
“The website will continue to grow alongside that. We’re aiming to have 200 brands by the end of December 2022 and we will be the go-to place for beautiful, well-made British craftsmanship goods.
“Gaynor Matthews from Business Ready has been hugely supportive. We’ve been working with her for around 18 months and we have been able to tap into all of her knowledge and experience as an entrepreneur. Gaynor has also got a lot of contacts in this sector too, which has been a big help.
“Building a business can be quite a lonely place at times and having someone who can support you and give you the confidence to let you know you are on track is really helpful and important.
“But Gaynor also knew when we might need that kick up the backside and that was what we needed sometimes!”
Sir Gordon Bennett, which is based out of an office near Evesham, is now looking to take on new staff through apprenticeships and the Government Kickstart scheme.
Gaynor said: “I love what Neil and Dan are doing through Sir Gordon Bennett and the ethos that it stands for.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with them and I believe they are on the road to great success with this brand.”
For more information on the company go to www.sirgordonbennett.com
Notes to Editor
The project is receiving up to £3.6 Million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.