A burgeoning family-owned promotional items company in St Helens has received £25,000 from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).

The Branded Items Group (BIG), which launched in January 2017, offers over 10,000 different promotional items and branded merchandise, from USB sticks and magnets to branded clothing.

After initially selling just one range of products, BIG has rapidly expanded to supply over 500 clients including NHS England, the Ministry of Defence, Cancer Research and St Helens Chamber of Commerce.

Owner Steve Fairhurst will invest the loan, delivered by GC Business Finance, in a new online platform, CRM, IT and marketing, with a plan to create two full-time roles at the company’s site on Alexandra Business Park.

He said: “We ran a test company for two years before launching the Branded Items Group and, in the process, mystery-shopped and learned a lot about some of the largest companies in the sector. We felt there was a market for a company that delivered old-fashioned customer service in an industry that, at times, can be too transactional and e-commerce driven.

“We are set up to compete with anyone on pricing but as a family-owned company, service is the major focus of our business and this has allowed us to grow our client base to include some of the largest organisations in the country. The funding from NPIF means that we are able to invest online and help us plan for further recruitment, build on our reputation and develop our client list even further.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, is an initiative launched by the government-owned British Business Bank, in collaboration with 10 Local Enterprise Partnerships in the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber and Tees Valley.

A key part of the government’s vision to create economic prosperity in the North of England, it provides over £400m of investment to boost small and medium business growth in the North.

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