A high-growth free mentoring service from the Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group (SREG) has inspired Skipton-based Northern Paper Board to embark on an ambitious development plan that’s already paying dividends.

With the help of SREG, Northern Paper Board is introducing new management processes designed to take its performance from good to outstanding and triple its turnover over the next three years.

On a visit to Northern Paper Board’s factory, honorary president of SREG and MP for Skipton and Ripon Julian Smith said:  “Small and medium sized businesses and the entrepreneurs that run them are vital to our economic recovery and despite difficult times, many of these businesses are finding new ways to grow. Skipton and Ripon is packed with talent, innovation and entrepreneurial flair. The Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group, with its free mentoring, gives vital support to companies like Northern Paper Board. We want entrepreneurs to share their experiences and to encourage others to have the courage to do what they have done.”

Founded in 2010, SREG is committed to supporting local enterprise and its mentors provide support and guidance that is personal, confidential and free of charge, with wide-ranging expertise, including change management and operations, marketing and sales, export, financial and HR.

SREG has 35 mentors active in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, professional services, industry, finance and construction. It has mentored 66 local companies.

Northern Paper Board, which employs 17 people, has evolved from a packaging merchant into a leading manufacturer and stockist of solid board boxes for the food processing industry, with a turnover that, in the past four years, has grown from £5.4 million to an estimated £10 million in the current financial year. The company is currently undertaking a £2.4 million investment programme at its six-acre site in Engine Shed Lane.

Northern Paper Board began using SREG mentors in 2011, seeking help to overcome strategic and operational challenges and find ways to drive future growth, as well as manage daily business demands.

Managing director John Curran said:  “The key asset we have gained from SREG mentoring is that our perceptions of running a small business have been positively challenged – and changed for the better. We can now look at the business more strategically and we can see that this inspirational approach will pay dividends for the company during the most important period of investment, expansion and diversification in our entire history.”

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