Sales grow as businesses share graduate

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Two Cornish businesses have found an innovative way of expanding during the recession – sharing the cost of a graduate to boost their sales.

Truro-based Avant Garde jewellery and Country Gingham home interiors have joined forces to employ Cassandra Manning under the Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP) scheme. This means the companies share the costs and Cassandra works three days a week for each business. The businesses then benefit from Manning’s marketing expertise. This is the first time two businesses have teamed up to ‘share’ a graduate under UCP.

UCP, which has received more than £4 million of ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence investment, places graduates with businesses and offers support for up to 12 months.

Manning, who graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Communication in 2004, acts as marketing co-ordinator for both businesses. Since her appointment in November, she has been developing the two websites as well as finding other ways to increase sales from the shops and via the Internet. Both businesses are already reporting an increase in sales despite the global recession.

She said: “I have a very broad role but with a lot of focus on the website, online newsletters, promotions and so on. Both companies are very different as are the two approaches I am taking. Under UCP I have mentors for PR, website optimisation and some elements of design. Learning these fields of expertise is great experience for me as well as benefiting both businesses.”

Neil Roach, business development manager at UCP, added: “When I first met Country Gingham and Avant Garde, their business growth needs were identical, and the idea of ‘sharing’ a full time graduate to manage their marketing activity was a natural one despite its unique nature. Cass is developing a strategy for both businesses that will be of benefit beyond the UCP support.”