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Collaborate grant helps DPI achieve rapid growth

DPI Sandra Wiggins and Paul Tomlinson in front of new saw bought with funding from Collaborate

A company that makes lightboxes and aluminium structures for retail, airport and exhibitions has received a £12,000 boost from Collaborate, the business support project that helps growing small and medium-sized businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire.

DPI (UK) has grown rapidly since it was launched three years ago by directors, Sandra Wiggins and Paul Tomlinson. That growth led to an increase in customers which has fed a rise in the number of employees and a move to larger premises.

The company received a grant for £12,253 from Collaborate to help fund the purchase of a new automated twin-headed mitre saw. The new saw enables DPI to cut larger profiles (aluminium panels) and produce larger structures in the UK rather than importing them. It also allows the business to reduce lead times to meet client demand and will lead to the creation of new jobs in the firm’s workshop and sales office.

Sandra said: “The business has grown significantly and our current cutting saw was needing more and more maintenance, which caused delays and longer lead times.

“The new saw has given us the capacity to not only cover existing workload in the event the old one breaks down, but also for us to produce the larger profile lightboxes and stands in-house, making us much more competitive. It also allows us to double our output as we’ll use the old one for smaller or lightweight operations.”

She added: “Without the Collaborate grant we probably wouldn’t have been able to make this investment for another year or two, making us dependent on EU suppliers, less price-competitive and more exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate.

“Last year the business grew by 37% so we’re very grateful for the support at this critical time in our growth.”

Leicester City Council is the accountable body for Collaborate. Sukhbinder Basra, Collaborate Grant Manager, Leicester City Council said: “We’re delighted to support DPI at this important time in their growth. It’s gratifying to see that the Collaborate grant has enabled them to accelerate their plans and achieve such positive results.

“We’re about a third through our £1.2m grant funding pot so we are very keen to support more businesses that can demonstrate their potential to grow and develop through the use of this grant.”

Eligible businesses can access capital grants from £5,000 to £25,000 for a third of the cost of projects in addition to free sector-specific workshops and one-to-one business advice.

Businesses interested in Collaborate should visit www.llepbizgateway/collaborate and complete a simple enquiry form to access free support.