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Profile Spring 2007 Newsletter

School business setting trends online

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Pictured is (left) Tony Goulbourn, of SYIF, and Peter Beeby, of SchoolTrends.

A Sheffield company has expanded its business into the online market with an acquisition of a website provider.

School Trends provides school uniforms for Primary and Secondary schools across the country. The company, based at Westfield Business Area, began more than 15 years ago and employs more than 130 staff, supplying printed t-shirts and sweatshirts to schools.

School Trends quickly began to enjoy a rapid growth and having become market leader were looking for other market growth opportunities.

To continue the progression of the business, School Trends completed a £1.5m purchase of Birmingham based Blue Spheres Limited, with assistance of a £100,000 loan from South Yorkshire Investment Fund.

The acquisition would allow School Trends to sell the Blue Spheres product in developing websites to its current customer base of more than 6,000 schools.

Schools Trend's turnover is now expected to rise by another £1.9m by the end of 2007.

Kelwin Heighton, Finance Director at Schools Trends, said: "We feel the company can benefit by adding this new division. School Trends will now be able to offer new products and services to the education sector.

"We will be able to utilise the expertise of Blue Spheres to provide modern websites for both Primary and Secondary schools. It will also enable an opportunity to expand our initiative to sell uniforms online."

Schools Trends offers two website products for Primary and Secondary schools.

Create (Primary) is a simple, easy to manage and template driven website, while Create (Secondary) provides a more complex website. Both are designed with a telephone and email support, software repairs and on-going site maintenance.

Kelwin added: "Most schools developed a website in the first wave of the internet revolution. However, a number of them are now disappointed with the functionality of their sites. We provide a software which is easy to use and meets the needs of the individual school."

Tony Goulbourn, Chief Executive for South Yorkshire Investment Fund, said: "Schools Trends has established itself as a key player in the school uniform market. This acquisition provides them with the potential to increase business in a new sector."

Editor's Notes

About South Yorkshire Investment Fund

South Yorkshire Investment Fund  provided seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15k to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

Created as part of the Objective 1 programme, the Fund is a private and public sector business finance provider. The European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward are investors in the Fund.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provided access to Business Angel investments from the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels and Microloans through BiG Business Loan Fund and Donbac Microloan Fund.

Finance Yorkshire has now taken on responsibility for providing gap finance in Yorkshire and the Humber.

For further details please contact Suzanne Tinkler,  on 0845 649 0000.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd is a company limited by guarantee (Registered No 3936065). South Yorkshire Investment Fund comprises three sub funds, the South Yorkshire Investment Capital Fund, the South Yorkshire Investment Development Fund, which are each managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, and the South Yorkshire Investment Small Business Fund, which is managed by Finance South Yorkshire Ltd. YFM Venture Finance Limited (Tel 0113 294 5000) and Finance South Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 01709 386 377) are each authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provides a number of services, which are not regulated by The Financial Services Authority. These include the pilot Seedcorn Fund, BiG Business Loan Fund, Mentorbank and access to the Donbac Microloan Fund. BiG Business Loan Fund is managed by Donbac Ltd (company registration No. 01925556) and Key Fund Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 0114 242 8900).