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28.12.06
Cornish business is flushed with success

A rapidly growing Cornish web-based business, which started trading only two years ago and has expanded to employ 14, achieved a record turnover of nearly £700,000 in November.

The Heatandplumb.com e-commerce site sells a wide range of bathroom, plumbing and sanitaryware. Most are delivered to the customer straight from trade wholesalers but some are held in stock at the company's headquarters at St Breock, near Wadebridge - which is also the home of Austen Asheton-Salton, who first had the idea for the business six years ago but was then "too busy" to implement it.

To help the fledgling company with its ambitions to become a multi-million pound business, he called in Business Link Devon and Cornwall personal business adviser Alex Nicholas who carried out a diagnostic review.

"His action plan highlighted milestones to achieve our vision and identified where we were misfiring and how we could generate new routes to profit and streamline our systems," explained Mr Asheton-Salton. "One suggestion during his first visit directly resulted in a £12,000 a year increase in sales revenue.

"With Business Link's help we are specifically looking at IT automation to make order processing easier and increase the natural hits ratio, as well as website optimisation, bringing our accounts up to date and introducing employment contracts and job descriptions."

A Cornishman, he returned to the county of his birth 12 years ago having built a reputation as an entrepreneur with printing, outside catering and other businesses.

Despite being diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis nine months ago and being in constant need of pain-relieving drugs, he puts a great deal of energy and passion into the business.

"The disease affects walking and standing and I am permanently in pain and registered disabled but in a strange way that makes me more focused – which is just as well with a wife and two young children and another on the way."

Looking to the future, he forecasts continued expansion for the business partly due to the constant public interest in DIY, TV 'makeover' programmes and property developing.

"Our success relies on our excellent easy-to-navigate website which was built in-house," he added. "But we've grown so big so quickly that we needed someone from outside to see how we were doing and how we could improve - and I've really been impressed with the efforts of the Business Link team in fulfilling that role."

Alex Nicholas said: "As a rapidly expanding company Heatandplumb.com is an ideal candidate to take advantage of support offered by Business Link for growing businesses. As well as providing information and advice on critical issues for day-to-day operations, Business Link can prove vital in helping the business develop a clear strategic plan to create competitive advantage and deliver profitable growth."

For further information contact Carolyn Daw of the Marketing PR Company on 01566 771863 or email cdaw@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Business Link Devon and Cornwall projects through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web www.bldc.co.uk and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business. Additionally, it provides impartial business advice and support through a network of partner organisations, which it co-ordinates, and a register of independent business practitioners.

Business Link for Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the region under contract from the South West of England Regional Development Agency, which was established by government in 1999 to promote the long-term economic success of the region. It does this by working with others to give people the skills they need, encourage enterprise, improve infrastructure, help communities with regeneration and promote the strengths of the region. Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

The Learning and Skills Council exists to make England better skilled and more competitive. It is responsible for planning and funding high-quality vocational education and training for everyone. It has a single goal: to improve the skills of England's young people and adults to world-class standards. Its vision is that by 2010, young people and adults in England have the knowledge and skills matching the best in the world and are part of a truly competitive workforce. Established in 2001 the LSC works nationally, regionally and locally from a network of offices across the country.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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