Midlands businesses finish top of the class at graduation dinner   

Midlands Businesses

9 July 2015

This week 30 businesses across the Midlands celebrated completing the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth – a programme specifically designed to support owner-managed companies plan for future growth. 

On Tuesday 7 July, a graduation dinner was held at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens which celebrated the achievements of the 30 businesses who successfully completed the four-month programme. 

Presented by the Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, Mark Hart, each individual received a crystal award and a certificate of completion. 

Professor Mark Hart, said: “We are proud to welcome these successful businesses into the Aston community. They have all made such a difference to the workplace and the region’s economy and we are delighted to have supported them in their journey. 

“We can already see the positive impact the programme has made for the participants. Between them, the participant businesses are predicting a fantastic 100% increase in turnover over the next three years. We are positive the skills they have learnt during the programme will allow them to continue to grow their businesses in a sustainable way.” 

The Aston Programme for Small Business Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is one of a number of successful business growth programmes run at Aston Business School. The new programme was delivered by leading practitioners and faculty members from Aston Business School. 

Participant Nicola Lathbury, owner and managing director of Hexagon FM in Sutton Coldfield, said: “The programme has given me a wonderful gift of knowledge, business practice and confidence so I can lead my business and team and create more jobs. We are already well on the way to implementing some of the skills and strategies we have learnt.” 

Participant Lewis Reeves, owner of Lewis’s Deli & Eatery in Moseley, commented: “Lots of people in my position have the mind-set of a small fish in a big pond, of being “just” a small business. The Aston Programme for Small Business Growth has helped me to see beyond that, and cement the values of the business. I really believe I’m now more likely to achieve my goals thanks to the support of the programme.” 

Running from February – June 2015, participants attended a series of workshops which covered a range of topics including marketing, innovation, leadership, HR, operations management and finance. They also had access to one-to-one support from a business mentor, developed a plan for growth for their business, and had the opportunity to network with like-minded business owners. 

Participating businesses and social enterprises came from across the Midlands, including Birmingham, Worcester, Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton, Warwickshire, Coventry, Shrewsbury and Shropshire, and ranged from software developers to recruitment consultancies, manufacturers to architects. 

Aston has experience of working with hundreds of SMEs to support their business growth on high profile programmes, including the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth, part-funded by the ERDF. As one of only three business schools nationally to hold Small Business Charter Gold status, it should be the first port of call for Midlands SMEs looking to grow their business. For further information visit www.aston.co.uk/centreforgrowth 


Media enquiries:

Kate Angel, Programme Manager, Aston Programme for Small Business Growth, Aston Centre for Growth 0121 204 4523 or


About Aston Business School 

Aston Business School, Aston University is renowned for the quality of its innovative learning and teaching, world leading research and for having a friendly and supportive culture. The School has strong business links, and offers life-transforming experiences that make a real difference to organisations, economies and the global society. Aston Business School is committed to helping small businesses realise their potential through dedicated services which are specifically tailored to meet their needs, and was last year awarded the Small Business Charter Gold Award in recognition of their achievements. The School also delivers cutting edge entrepreneurial research (especially on high growth firms) and is home to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor UK project and jointly hosts the national Enterprise Research Centre with Warwick University. 

List of participants that completed the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth:

Phil Arkinstall – Ark Media Productions

Andrew Bowyer – Fluid Digital

Fiona Cockburn – Ollilia Law Ltd

Bob Compton – ARC Benefits Ltd

Mark Cunningham – Northstar Events Ltd

Petra Gale, Xceeda Group

Simon Godden, BlackCat Technology Solutions

Nathan Golby, KSA Associates

Sandra Green, Green Revolutions CIC

Jonathan Henney, Street Advertising Services

Sally Hill, New Era Recruitment Solutions Limited

David Hobbs, Elite EMC Ltd

John Hughes, Majorfax Ltd

Sian Kelly, Inform Accounting

Nicola Lathbury, Hexagon FM

Jeff Longley, Mr Electric

Paul Lyon, Lyson Design Limited

Jason Navon, Clarity Comms

Richard Podmore, Secure A Ship

Carl Reader, d&t

Lewis Reeves, Lewis’s

Martyn Rowlands, Pipekit

Nate Sheridan, Citizen Click CIC

Kevin Slack, Greenspace Architects Ltd

Emma Taylor, The Leadership Whisperers

Mark Thompson, Environet UK Ltd

Sarah Vogel, People Development Associates

Amy Watson, Swan Publishing Ltd

Katie Webb, Cactus Support CIC

Steve Williams, Impetus