Archive: Apr 2016

  1. FT2G Devon Pitch 2016 Winner Announced!

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    A catering business that provides exciting food experiences using the West Country’s finest produce has won our co partnered Fast Track to Growth Devon Pitch 2016.

    Pickle Shack has secured £15,000 worth of financial strategy, PR and marketing support for the rest of the year, after a final pitch event in front of a panel of judges in Exeter last week.

    Thirteen companies including Bluebird Care, Custodian Solutions, Otter Valley Dairy and Salcombe Distilling Company were selected for our business growth programme, developed in partnership with PR, marketing and design agency Astley Media, plus headline sponsors Crowdcube, Exeter Innovation Centre and Innovate Exeter.

    Pickle Shack, run by Jodie Sawatzki and Josh McDonald-Johnson, and based at Woodbury Salterton near Exeter, organise and run pop-up restaurants and ‘Grub Clubs’ alongside corporate and wedding catering, private dining and cookery workshops and demonstrations.

    Jodie said: “I’m staggered to have won because there were so many other strong candidates that have been in business longer than us so I’m really grateful. The learning we’ve already got out of Fast Track to Growth has been brilliant and we’re already putting it into practice. I’m really looking forward to working with Fast Track to Growth to help develop and grow the business over the coming months.”

    Kids Holiday Toys, which hires out boxes of toys, books and games for children on holiday, were awarded the best start-up prize, giving the company access to on-going support to develop the business in the coming months.

    Judith Cook, owner of Kids Holiday Toys, said: “The quality of the knowledge shared has been exceptional. I’ve learnt so much and already implemented changes. Fast Track to Growth is giving me the impetus and confidence to move forwards in new ways – it’s very exciting.”

    FT2G Finalists and sponsorsFast Track to Growth saw the shortlisted companies benefit from a series of workshops led by experts to develop their plans for growth, culminating with Thursday’s pitch event at Exeter Innovation Centre.

    Steve Lovett, SouthWestfd‘s  Managing Director and on the judging panel, said: “‘All those on the programme did exceptionally well. We have been particularly impressed by the sheer passion and level of commitment displayed. We look forward to supporting Pickle Shack and Kids Holiday Toys on their growth journey and will be maintaining close contact with everyone who took part.”

    Other companies in the group selected for the programme were OneFlow from Exeter, TIC Training of Brixham, Essential 6 of Torquay, If Everyone Cares of Dawlish, Dial South West of Newton Abbot, Yonder Berries, based in Lustleigh and Southern Filters of Axminster.

    The judging panel included the sponsors of the programme, Richard Eckley of CrowdCube, Phil Sampson of Sampson Hall, Ross Bellotti of Kingfisher Print, Simon Morris of Stephens Scown, Joanne Johnson of Santander and Robin Jackson of Exeter Innovation Centre.

    Richard Eckley, of headline sponsor Crowdcube, the world’s leading investment crowdfunding platform, said: “Congratulations to Pickle Shack and Holiday Toys. From the very start of this year’s Fast Track to Growth programme they’ve shown an eagerness to learn, combined with a passion for their business and a strong focus on growth.

    “The pitches were of a high quality but it’s the effort that everyone has put in throughout the programme that has really impressed me.”

    All the shortlisted companies become members of Fast Track to Growth, with access to business support. Other Devon companies are also able to apply to join and benefit when FT2G 2017 is launched later this year.

    Dan Pritchard, of Astley Media, said: “Fast Track to Growth helps companies work on specific growth plans and includes business planning, financial strategy, legal, marketing, PR and leadership expertise. But another big benefit has been they’ve all been able to learn from each other, sharing experiences, ideas and their own expertise.”

    Rebecca Turner, who runs Southern Filters, said: “The programme has been amazing. Every session has always had something useful in it. We’ve now got a new financial strategy and from Twitter alone have secured £4,200 worth of extra business in recent weeks. We’ve got new financial, PR and marketing approaches to put into practice that I’m sure will help grow our business further.”

    For more details and to register your interest as a growth business or potential sponsor of FT2G Devon Pitch 2017 visit

  2. Confidence levels in the South West – Economic Survey Results

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    Thank you to those who helped us compile our recent South West Economic Survey.

    Whilst most companies remain positive, confidence is not as high as it was. Confidence in the UK economy has dipped by 22 per cent for the year ahead, alongside a smaller 16 per cent dip concerning the South West’s economic prospects.

    The key findings of our survey were:

    •    83 per cent of firms rated the South West’s economic performance in the past 12 months as average or good
    •    81 per cent said they thought the UK’s overall economic performance in the past 12 months was average or good
    •    Confidence in the South West’s economic performance for the next 12 months was rated average or good by 67 per cent of respondents
    •    Confidence in the UK’s overall economic performance was rated average or good by 59 per cent of those polled.

    The findings are in line with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which has downgraded its growth forecast for the UK economy, blaming “global headwinds and uncertainty”.

    The BCC now expects the UK’s economy to grow by 2.2% this year, down from a previous estimate of 2.5%. It has also cut its growth forecast for 2017 to 2.3% from 2.5%, and expects growth of 2.4% in 2018.

    Meanwhile, the consensus of independent forecasters is that growth in future years won’t be quite as strong as thought in the autumn. This would mean that the Chancellor will miss his target to close the national deficit by 2019.

    The survey had coverage in the Western Morning News and the follow up survey results indicated that confidence levels remained the same as pre Budget.