A Cornish business leading the way in environmentally friendly cork products has received further funding from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF), managed by The FSE Group, to support its continued growth. The £100,000 loan is supporting expansion into the US and across Europe.
With its core merchandise made from offcuts of cork from the bottle manufacturing process, I for Design creates a range of natural, environmentally friendly homeware products under its LIGA brand and as white label items. LIGA products are stocked in many independent boutiques and garden centres throughout the UK, plus by well-known names such as The Eden Project, John Lewis and National Trust.
Since receiving its first CIOSIF loan of £80,000 four years ago, and despite the pandemic affecting retail trading during that time, I for Design has grown significantly and was recently ranked 23rd in the Fast Growth 50 index for 2023. With a well-established presence in the UK retail market, the company is now expanding internationally.
David Elderkin, Director at I for Design, said: “Our ethical and environmentally conscious brand resonates with consumers and we’ve seen continued interest from both large and small retailers. Since our first CIOSIF loan we have gone from stocking around 200 stores to currently over 500 in the UK. We are so pleased to have the continued support of CIOSIF and FSE for this next stage of our growth as we look to launch our products into the US, before focusing on growing our existing customer base in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.”
Tim Williams, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, added: “We have been really impressed with the progress made by David and the team since our first CIOSIF loan. Over the past four years they have more than doubled the number of stores they stock and quadrupled turnover. They have continued to innovate their environmentally friendly offering with circa 500 products that now also include pottery, recycled plastic and wood designs, and we are delighted to be able to support their international expansion.”
The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund provides debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million to help growing small businesses across the region. It was established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
Funding through CIOSIF comes to an end in December this year but wider funding is now available through the British Business Bank’s £200m South West Investment Fund providing loans from £25k to £2m and equity investment up to £5m.
Paul Jones, Senior Investment Manager from the British Business Bank said: “We want our regional funds to be a catalyst for building a modern, green economy and I for Design shows how an ethical and environmentally conscious approach can drive real growth.”
John Acornley, Chair of the CIOSIF advisory board and former LEP non-executive director, said: “We’re delighted that CIOSIF has been able to back I For Design with a further growth loan. They have built up a prestigious customer base and we wish them well with their expansion into new markets.”
CIOSIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
For more information about the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund including how to apply, please visit www.ciosif.co.uk or follow the fund on Twitter at @CIOSIFBBB2