Worcester signage company invests six-figure sum in equipment

Photo shows: Deanne and Darren Wilkins, Co-Directors of City Signs
City Signs

A Worcester signage and display firm has invested in a six-figure piece of equipment to expand market share, thanks to the guidance and support of membership organisation, Sterling Advance 

Operating from a 2,600 sq ft headquarters in the city, City Signs is a family run business originally founded in 1960. The business was taken over by managing director, Darren Wilkins in 2005 who now runs the company with his sister, Deanne. 2020 was set to be an exciting year as the firm surpassed 60 successful years in business.  

However, by March 2020, Darren was concerned about the future of City Signs, as, like millions of other businesses, he was forced to close its doors and lost a vast percentage of income overnight as a result of the first COVID-19 lockdown.  

The business adapted by designing and printing COVID-19 stickers, signage and screens. While he recovered some lost revenue, it required contractual support to complete a number of its jobs, particularly in cutting screens and commercial signage.  

After getting advice from other members of Sterling Advance, Darren decided to invest in his own cutting machinery, which would improve the turnaround time for existing jobs, and provide him with the opportunity to increase market share and drive business growth.

Darren said: “Like millions of other businesses, we were forced to close our doors during the first lockdown, which meant we lost a significant amount of revenue overnight, particularly as a vast percentage was related to events and exhibitions. However, we quickly identified an opportunity to help shops, schools, restaurants and businesses in other sectors re-open and work around COVID-19 by creating social distancing advisory, signage and protective screens.  

“Initially, we had to sub-contract the cutting of these jobs, which resulted in a very limited return for us as a business. When I took this challenge to my Sterling Advance group, I was able to confidentially discuss the pros and cons of investing in a new piece of kit and, in addition to supporting me with my decision, members of the group helped me source grant funding, which covered 30 per cent of the overall cost.  

“We can now complete all jobs from start to finish in-house, ensuring everything is delivered quickly, while saving significant costs. Without the guidance of the Sterling Advance group, I probably wouldn’t have taken the plunge as I was naturally concerned about the long-term impact of COVID-19, so I am incredibly grateful for their support.” 

Designed to bring like-minded professionals together in a mastermind group of 12, Sterling Advance enables business leaders to expand their networks through peer-to-peer support, whilst benefitting from the insight and expertise of proven business coaches.   

Founded in partnership by Neil Davies, managing director of fast-growth networking organisation, Sterling Networks, and business and leadership coach, Alan Clark, Sterling Advance helps members focus on developing their skillsets and driving business growth.   

Alan: “Sterling Advance was created to help like-minded business leaders overcome significant challenges, develop leadership skills and drive business growth through a unique mastermind and masterclass model.  

“The example of Darren and City Signs is representative of how we help our members surpass difficulties in their businesses and drive positive change, and I am delighted that we were not only able to support him in making the decision, but also enabled him to invest in the future growth and development of the business, which will be key for long-term survival post COVID-19.”