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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Firms grab a slice of £4m growth fund

BELLS of Lazonby and Calder Foods in Carlisle are among the first to benefit from a £4m fund to help Cumbrian businesses grow and create jobs.

Calder Foods, based at Burgh Road Industrial Estate, receives a £169,000 grant towards a new factory in Brampton, which should create at least 20 jobs when it opens in November.

Bells gets £45,000 towards equipment that should safeguard a dozen jobs.

The bakery is investing £0.5m in capital projects at Lazonby as it seeks to build on recent successes.

It has become a specialist in niche markets such as allergen-free products for people with eating allergies.

Of 14 notifiable allergens, it can eliminate 12 from its production facilities. It is also baking traditional, high-quality cakes for the coffee shop market.

Managing director Michael Bell said: “We have had significant success in the last four or five years in developing hand-made cakes using butter, icing sugar and cream cheese for the coffee shop market.

“We have invested heavily in that. We have a plan for growth this year and for the following two years.

“In business, you only have a competitive advantage for a short period so you to continue to invest.”

Bells employs more than 200 people at Lazonby and at its shops in Carlisle, Wigton, Workington and Penrith, and the Village Bakery in Melmerby. Customers include Costa, Sainsbury’s, Booths, Morrisons, Waitrose and Cranstons.

Calder Foods’ new factory Townfoot Industrial Estate, Brampton, is in addition to its Carlisle site. The company, established 20 years ago by Paul Barker and his brother-in-law Nigel Harrison, employs 140 people and produces 140 tonnes of sandwich fillings each week plus salads, humus and salsas.

It is investing £700,000 in the new site at Brampton, which will make mayonnaise, sauces and dips.

Mr Barker, chief executive, said: “We are making a considerable personal investment and are backed by our bank. “The [grant] funding has bridged a gap for us and allows us to press the button on this expansion way ahead of time.”

Also benefiting from support is Wilsons of Kendal, manufacturer of the famous mint cake and other confectionery products, which recently moved to a new factory at Holme near Milnthorpe. It receives £86,500 as part of a £750,000 investment to create 10 jobs.

These three food businesses are the first to be named as beneficiaries of the £4m fund aimed at small and medium-sized Cumbrian enterprises.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was awarded the money from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

Along with its partners – Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and media partner CN Group, publisher of The Cumberland News – the LEP is distributing the money under the banner ‘Unleashing Cumbria’s Potential’.

Another 11 applications have been approved in principle. Details of these will follow.

The 14 projects so far will receive grants totalling £1.6m that should create 190 jobs.

The remaining £2.4m is still available and businesses are invited to stake a claim. The minimum grant is £10,000 and the money will typically cover between 10 and 40 per cent of the total cost of a project

George Beveridge, chairman of Cumbria LEP, said: “It’s tremendous to see so much money being committed to businesses so quickly.

“I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in applying for this funding to get in contact, check their eligibility and get the ball rolling with an application as soon as they can.

“Interest in the scheme has been really strong to date and there are already a good number of applications in the pipeline for the £2.4m as yet uncommitted.”

Further information is available on the Cumbria LEP website www.cumbrialep.co.uk or from Cumbria County Council’s economic development team on 01228 226628 or by emailing leanne.beverley@cumbria.gov.uk.

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