When he was younger, Simon Richardson used to help in his grandfather’s shoe repair shop. Fast forward over 40 years, Simon now owns his own shoe repair and key cutting business, Keyishoes.
Once Simon left school, he completed a City and Guilds programme with Timpsons in shoe repairs and key cutting. He then went to work for Mister Minit and managed a few shops in Carlisle. Simon left the trade and took another route and worked in financial services for about 20 years.
Simon said: “In 2009 I wanted to get out of the rat race and run my own business. I’d always enjoyed shoe repair and key cutting from my previous experience, so I decided to research and start our own business.”
He soon realised things had moved on from when he was previously doing shoe repairs and key cutting with the introduction of electronic car keys. Simon said: “When we started it was shoe repairs, key cutting and car keys, now we’ve expanded the services to include car key repairs, engraving, watch battery repairs and changing.”
Simon bought a mobile trailer to host the business in with the plan to move around different areas but soon decided against this and pitched up on a retail park in Kingstown, Carlisle. They were there from 2010 up until 2021. Following the opening of B&M Bargains and Smyths Toys on the retail park, Simon soon realised this wasn’t ideal for his business as parking became limited and there’s was a lot of traffic, this prompted him on to look for a fixed premises.
When asked why he contacted Cumbria Business Growth Hub he said: “If I can get free advice, then I’ll take it! I’d received advice from the Growth Hub in the past and thought I’d see what else was available.”
Simon’s wife is a partner in the business and helps with the administration side of things and provides cover. He said: “Jennie doesn’t really get very involved in the business side of things, so the Growth Hub’s offering of a few hours advice each month was really valuable to me to offer and support for the business decisions that need to be made .”
Simon received 1-2-1 expert adviser time through Cumbria Business Growth Hub which offers a great package of support tailored to individual business needs to help you make your business more profitable and competitive and grow. Simon was allocated time with Growth Hub adviser, Gail Gravett.
Simon made his mind up in March of 2021 about wanting to move premises but found the process of finding the right size and location difficult. Gail helped find the location through word of mouth, and after 6 months the lease for the new Keyishoes unit was finalised.
When asked about the support Simon received through Cumbria Business Growth Hub, Simon said: “The whole process has been great. Gail has been the best adviser I’ve spoken with. She’s been great as being a sounding board and talking things through as well as pointing me in the right direction and keeping me on track.
“The marketing advice and tips has also been brilliant from Gail, she’s encouraged us to try and mix up our marketing a little bit. She gave us some good ideas on how to make things a bit more interesting and not to focus on one thing, she’s helped me to broaden my horizons.”
Simon has recently taken on a part-time member of staff who’s now being trained in all aspects of the business and Gail was there to support him with those decisions too.
When asked what plans Simon has for the future of his business, he said: “I want to keep up to date with the latest things that are happening in the industry so we’re able to change our strategy as new developments come onboard.
“One big part of preparing for the future is to make sure there’s other staff members so the business can continue if I’m not there. In a nutshell, I want to work on the business rather than in it.”
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The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Sellafield Ltd., Carlisle City Council, South Lakeland District Council, Penrith Industrial BID 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 BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing 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.