Gift company expands with Finance Yorkshire investment
A gift company specialising in personalised keepsakes is expanding into new markets following a £300,000 investment from Finance Yorkshire.
The investment will enable Brough-based The Lovely Gift Group to purchase new machinery, stock and employ additional staff as it eyes opportunities in the funeral care and pet memorial sectors.
In the next phase of expansion following the investment, the company is supplying its own brand keepsake products ‘Angels, Wings & Feathers’ to funeral care providers including Central England Co-operative. Another wholesale opportunity is being launched with the ‘Oh So Precious’ brand range in the pet and veterinary sectors, offering owners keepsakes to remember their pets.
Owner Helen Davies launched the keepsake business after her experience of giving birth to premature twins who spent 10 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hull Royal Infirmary.
Helen said: “It was such a special time in the NICU and I wanted to treasure and remember it. The nurses were giving me mementoes like the twins’ oxygen masks but I didn’t have a keepsake box to put them in.
“My experience gave me the germ of an idea for a keepsake business to give people innovative ideas to display or protect special items from people, places or occasions from all through life, that bring them a lot of comfort.”
Following two years market research, Helen launched The Lovely Keepsake Company online from the family home in 2015 when her twins, Xavi and Anya, were two, and older
brother, Zac, seven. The business is now part of The Lovely Gift Group which also includes online stores Lovely NICU Gifts and Lovely Memorial Gifts and the two new product brands.
The Covid-19 lockdowns forced the business to react to market pressures as special events such as weddings, parties and anniversaries stopped overnight. “We were able to quickly react by investing in a high-quality printer and vinyl cutter to start making postbox keepsakes for people to send during lockdown with messages of comfort, gratitude and cheer.
“That gave us the confidence to continue with our own designs and production which had always been the ambition. With creative and innovative ideas, we felt our own products would stand out in the keepsake marketplace and we are delighted with initial feedback from stockists.”
Helen’s husband Jason joined the business in 2020 and as the company moved to premises in Newport, Brough in 2021, it saw significant growth in its sales. It is targeting £750,000 turnover this year.
Bestsellers include comfort bears incorporating tins for cremation ashes or voice recorders, personalised keepsake boxes, bears and cushions made from garments, handprint frames and meaningful baubles that are especially popular at Christmas.
Finance Yorkshire’s investment from its Seedcorn Fund will enable the purchase of engravers, cutters and printers as the company moves into wholesale as well as being an online business. The investment will also enable the company to increase its staff from five to ten in the coming months.
Alex McWhirter, Chief Executive at Finance Yorkshire, said: “Helen and her team at The Lovely Gift Group have established a strong range of products for several sectors where demand is growing for keepsakes and memorial items. The innovative ideas and inventive aspects of their growing product range is nothing short of impressive. Our Seedcorn Fund is ideally placed to support SMEs like The Lovely Gift Group to help them to achieve their growth ambitions and create jobs. Finance Yorkshire looks forward to supporting The Lovely Gift Group in this exciting new chapter for the business.”
Finance Yorkshire’s Seedcorn Fund is part of its regional fund which is expected to provide more than £50m to SMEs over the next five years. Investment is also available from its Growth Fund as well as through large and small business loans.