Organic growth is planned for online and mail order gardening firm Two West and Elliott following an influx of capital from Tata Group subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise.
With the new funds, owner-manager Peter Bennett has also been able to buy-out a minority shareholder in the company who had been in place since he acquired the business from previous owners in 2007.
The company, with its warehousing and manufacturing base at Sheepbridge Industrial Estate, Chesterfield, has been trading for many years.
Currently Peter employs 12 staff and has a turnover of almost £2 million from supplying everything for the garden, from high quality greenhouses, fruit cages, benches and propagation equipment to small gardening tools.
The company manufacturers most of its own aluminum products on site and sells them via the internet and mail order.
Peter has been with the firm since he was a boy, starting as a Saturday worker while he was still at school.
He said: “At this time I worked for the original husband and wife owners, the two Wests, joining the company with the view to earning some money whilst deciding what I really wanted to do in life.
“Twenty-five years later, when they retired in 2000 and sold the business to a York-based company, I stayed on to manage the day-to-day operations. Then in 2007, having overspent on marketing, the group suffered financial problems.”
It was then that Peter seized the opportunity and bought the business with assistance from an external investor.
“A friend recently introduced me to UK Steel Enterprise,” he explained, “and they have come in with Santander to provide me with the funds to buy back that stake.”
Over the last four years he has taken the company back to its roots, dispensed with an expensive-to-run call centre, concentrating on straightforward marketing, advertising in gardening magazines and producing mail order brochures.
They are also working on a more impressive website to go live by the end of the year.
“We have tried to remain competitive despite the VAT hike and other rising costs,” said Peter, adding: “We endeavour to offer quality equipment at sensible prices. About 85% of our sales come from the general public but we also deal with garden centres and supermarkets.”
Agreeing the £50,000 loan, UK Steel Enterprise regional manager Keith Williams said: “Two Wests is an established business with potential.
“With plenty of interest in ‘growing your own’ the market for their products should continue to expand, so we hope we have sown the seeds of company growth.”