Big deals for teddies bear out confidence; BUTLINS AND DISTRIBUTION CONTRACTS BOOST FOR CUSTOMISED TOY FIRM.
A TEDDY bear company is "bruin" up new business after securing two major deals with its innovative soft toy range.
Be My Bear Ltd of Rhos on Sea offers children - and adults - the chance to bring their very own customised animal to life with a wide range of voice chips, clothing and accessories.
Now the directors Pippa Thomas and Jane Weaver have taken on the European distributorship for the American Bear Factory in addition to selling their own Be My Bear brand.
They have also landed a lucrative deal to supply a range of animals and accessories to the Butlins holiday company at their centres in Britain.
The company has two websites selling direct to the public and wholesaling to more than 250 trade customers. Now it is developing a third site which will enable it to monitor stock.
Pippa and Jane said the help they've had from Flexible Support for Business, the free business advisory service funded by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), has helped them access a grant towards the cost of the new website and marketing materials.
In addition, they have been steered safely through the potential minefield of complying with employment and environmental requirements. Be My Bear's "bear essential kit" includes everything needed to bring an animal to life, from skin, and stuffing, to the birth certificate and carry bag. A wide range of pre-recorded and recordable voice chips, clothing and accessories lets the child personalise the bear.
Pippa, a former journalist, and ex-teacher Jane Weaver started the business as a cottage industry in 2001.
"In the early days we ran children's bear-making parties where the children stuffed the bears and we stitched them up while they were having their birthday tea - always a race against time, recalled Pippa.
The product gradually evolved and the product range now includes about 250 lines. The latest distributorship deal has taken the business to a new level.
"The deal was a very big coup for us as well as being a vote of confidence, but it has meant taking on additional staff and obviously increased overheads, so we need to be cautious," added Pippa.
They now employ five people and have seen an average of 40% growth with a 27% increase last year.
Pippa said: "It was when we started selling DIY party kits on the Internet that things really took off and revolutionised our business."
Jane said: "Flexible Support for Business helped us tap into the Local Investment Fund.
Ffion Jones, the Environmental Management Advisor for Flexible Support for Business, said: "They are full of enthusiasm and good ideas which is an excellent combination when it comes to business.."
. Small businesses requiring assistance should telephone 03000 6 03000 or visit www.fs4b.wales.gov.uk
Jane Weaver, Pippa Thomas and Ffion Jones of thriving Rhos on Sea business Be My Bear Ltd, which specialises in customised teddies and has just become the European distributor for the American Bear Factory