Home News Meet the politician turned businessman

Meet the politician turned businessman

2306
0

When Gareth McKeever was selected to fight the Westmorland and Lonsdale seat for the Conservatives at the 2010 General Election, it changed his life.

Just not in the way he anticipated.

A stockbroker from London, he was always an outside bet to unseat the Lib Dem MP Tim Farron who was returned with a 12,000 majority.

Gareth and Claire McKeeverGareth said: “I moved to Kendal and gave it my best shot. Whilst I was here I met Claire, my future wife, who comes from Ulverston.

“After the election we went back to London but when our little boy, Angus, was born in 2012 we decided to come back to Cumbria with the idea of either setting up or buying a business.

“We wanted to do something together full time that gave us flexibility with a young family.”

They acquired Pure Lakes, a natural skin care business at Staveley, between Kendal and Windermere, founded in 2007 by Sandra and Iain Blackburn.

It manufactures eco-friendly skin care products from natural ingredients that are kind to your skin and the planet.

“I discovered Pure Lakes when I lived up here and loved the products so much I had them sent down to London when I moved back.”

The range includes soaps, bath products, lotions, face creams for different skin types, shampoos, conditioners, and products for cyclists and walkers.

Gareth said: “I discovered Pure Lakes when I lived up here and loved the products so much I had them sent down to London when I moved back.

“We knew Iain and Sandra a bit and I approached them in 2013 to ask if they were interested in selling.

“They were looking to step back so we bought half the business the following year and the remaining half in 2016.”

At the time, annual turnover was just under £100,000 but the couple had ambitions to grow the business and turned for help to the Chamber’s business support service, Cumbria Business Growth Hub.

Growth Hub adviser Adrian Luckham brought in Nigel Goodrich of the Cumbria Manufacturing Service – an ERDF programme to support SMEs – to identify opportunities and remove barriers to growth.

Pure Lakes productsPure Lakes was able to secure grants towards a new web site – due to go live shortly – for a marketing strategy, and a £35,000 Leader Programme grant to help buy machinery to increase output.

Gareth said: “Nigel provided very useful insights. We identified two areas, a business development strategy and a marketing strategy.

“The business development strategy, to ensure we develop our markets carefully and don’t stretch too far, is complete and has enabled us to view the future with greater clarity and focus on the important opportunities.

“The marketing strategy is nearly complete and touched on both packaging and our website.

“We are already growing quite significantly with new hotels on board such as Low Wood Bay and the Brimstone in Langdale. That has been a game changer.”

“Both projects have helped us enormously. We have really appreciated the help from Adrian and Nigel.”

The business now employs eight people including the founders Iain and Sandra who are still involved part time.

Gareth said: “We have three routes to market. Direct sales to hotels, through local retailers, and direct to consumers online.

“We are already growing quite significantly with new hotels on board such as Low Wood Bay and the Brimstone in Langdale. That has been a game changer.”

To find out how the Growth Hub can help your business, click here

ERDFCumbria Manufacturing Service and Cumbria Business Growth Hub are business support initiatives part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP. 

The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.

Cumbria Manufacturing Service is receiving is £301,088 of ERDF funding.

 

 

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here