Telford businesses are expanding thanks to Telford & Wrekin Council funding

A high street business which only opened last year is continuing to expand by launching a new manufacturing unit.

Telford businesses are expanding thanks to Telford & Wrekin Council funding

FRO Blinds Ltd has become a popular addition to Market Street, Wellington after receiving a business start-up grant through Telford & Wrekin Council’s Pride in Our High Street programme in 2021.

Now the business has secured a 1200sq ft industrial unit at Trench Lock 3, Telford where a full range of blinds and curtains can be manufactured, creating additional jobs.

Owner Andrew Simpson applied for the start-up grant funding initially because he felt a high street base would help his business to grow, generate more footfall and attract new customers.

After previously working self-employed for well-known national firm Hillarys Blinds, Andrew gained vast experience in the blinds industry before going solo to set up his FRO Blinds venture.

Andrew has already expanded his blinds and curtain offering in Wellington and the new Trench base is another boost for the business which will now employ seven staff over the two units.

Andrew said: “Since we opened last year we’ve grown incredibly quickly and we now need extra space as we’re expanding to manufacture our own blinds.

“We’re delighted to be opening the new Trench Lock unit. We’ve not received any additional grant for this and it has all been funded by the business but none of this would have been possible without the original Pride in Our High Street grant.

“Since we launched the business last summer, the support we’ve received from Telford & Wrekin Council has definitely helped us take FRO Blinds to the next level.”

Other businesses across the borough are also branching out after their initial Pride in Our High Street grant.

They include Sweet Little Things – a cake stall on Madeley Market which received a trial start-up grant in May.

Owner Leanne Humphries is now running a newly relaunched Emma’s Delicatessen in Lightmoor Village, Telford in addition to her Saturday morning market stall. 

She is serving up tasty treats, breakfasts, sandwiches and toasties at the deli as well as offering a selection of cakes.

Leanne said: “I always wanted to run my own tea room by the time I was 40 and I reach that age early next year so I’m delighted that this opportunity has come about at Emma’s Deli.

“I’m still running Sweet Little Things at Madeley Market and customers at the market are keen to come and visit Emma’s Deli so it’s a win-win situation as I can run the two ventures hand-in hand.

“I’m grateful to Telford & Wrekin Council for the trial start-up grant which has really helped me get to where I want to be in this line of business.”

Pride in Our High Street was launched in 2019 and is an ongoing Telford & Wrekin Council commitment to help tackle the issues and additional pressures that high streets face, providing support to new and existing businesses.

During the last three years, a total of 145 grants have been awarded to help businesses set up on the high street.

The funding support, which totals £784,427, has created 262 jobs and only three businesses have closed their doors during that time, despite the pressures facing high streets and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor Lee Carter (Lab), Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services, Regeneration and the High Street, said: “This is a wonderful example of how giving businesses that initial support can make a real difference and help them to go from strength-to-strength.

“We’re thrilled to hear that FRO Blinds has now secured a new manufacturing space which goes hand in hand with the showroom in Wellington and also that Leanne has been able to build on her popular market stall to run her own cafe alongside it.

“This has been a tough few years for businesses, but our pride in Our High Street programme has given many businesses the financial support they need to establish themselves in our communities.”

Councillor Eileen Callear (Lab), Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Visitor Economy, Employment and Skills said: “It’s fantastic to see that the Pride in our High Street business start-up grant and trial grant has helped these businesses to expand and create new employment opportunities.

“FRO Blinds have come such a long way in such a short space of time so the opening of their new manufacturing unit is excellent news for the business and it’s great to see Leanne’s dream becoming her reality at Emma’s delicatessen.”

You can find out more about the revive and thrive grants here

Photo: Cllr Eileen Callear, far right, with the FRO Blinds team (L-r) Ness Ebanks, Dan Dean and Andrew Simpson.