A South Yorkshire entrepreneur who established his own business after he was made redundant during the pandemic is celebrating a ‘very strong’ first quarter, fuelled by the surge in events taking place for the first time since restrictions lifted.
MAX Merchandise, a Rotherham-based promotional gift distribution business which specialises in branded products, was established by Andrew Swan in January 2022.
With more than 14 years in the commercial gift industry, Andrew was inspired to launch his own company after he was furloughed in March 2020, before he eventually left his job as a National Account Manager during lockdown.
The ambitious entrepreneur applied for a kickstart grant from UKSE – a local investment company that provides finance of up to £1.5m to growing companies, as well as providing support for start-ups such – which allowed him to invest in stock and marketing activity.
Named in honour of Andrew’s lockdown dog, Max, MAX Merchandise has already established a loyal and rapidly growing client base, and has increased its turnover by 344% in comparison to its first month trading.
While Andrew is currently getting help from family to help keep up with demand, he is now on the hunt for official business premises, and is on track to recruit in the coming months.
Speaking on the successful start to the business, Andrew said: “The launch of MAX Merchandise coincided with the relaunch of a lot of events which had been put on hold as a result of the uncertainty caused by lockdown and the pandemic.
“Demand for promotional products soared as a result, and I am absolutely delighted to say that we have since established a very loyal and rapidly growing client base. There is particular demand from customers with a product or service to sell, and those who exhibit at major business events.
“There’s also been real demand from companies who are welcoming staff back into the office on a more formal basis, so lots of travel mugs with business branding, pens and notebooks.
“The grant from UKSE gave me the financial boost I needed to go after premium prospects by proving the true value of my products. My goal is to run a business that is well respected, so that support early on was pivotal to our success to date.
“Looking to the future I am looking forward to finding more permanent premises where I can grow the product line, as well as my team.”
Steve Lyon, Area Manager at UKSE, said: “Andrew is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit we have seen prevailing as we emerged from the pandemic. Andrew’s industry knowledge and established contacts has already set him off to a flying start.
“We wish him the best of luck moving forward.”