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Decorators paint perfect business with City West

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Decorators paint perfect business with City West


Published by Bobbie H for City West Housing Trust in Housing and also in Care and Support, Communities, Education

Women at work - Lou Berriman and Fran Lock get busy decorating City West properties Women at work - Lou Berriman and Fran Lock get busy decorating City West properties

A couple from Manchester who quit their office jobs to set up their own company are painting the town red after City West Housing Trust helped turn their fledgling decorating business into to a major success story.

Francesca Lock and Louise Berriman, both 35, left their jobs in human resources and sales for food processing and packaging company Tetra Pak to set up their venture in Berkshire in 2008.

The pair, who met on holiday in Australia in 2002, decided to move north to Manchester in 2012 with ambitions to grow the company, but found it difficult to re-build their business in a new area and attract the large contracts they wanted.

That was until the couple teamed up with City West’s Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme, which was set up to support people looking to start-up and grow their own businesses.

Fran said: “Working with City West it has been the ticket to success for us.

“We decided to go it alone after we decorated our house and realised we had a real talent for the job. While we know a great deal about painting and decorating, we didn’t instinctively know how to grow our business – especially as we set up during the economic downturn. 

“But when we sat down with the team, we found that by being two women going it alone, we had our own unique selling point. Since then the business has grown and grown.”

The Salford landlord’s programme helps small businesses based in and around its neighbourhoods to get off the ground by offering free one-to-one consultations and workshops with its experienced Commercial Team.

Over six months the team helped Fran and Lou to create a business action plan, and found new ways for the company to diversify its offerings – such as selling re-cycled and re-decorated furniture as a side business.

The housing provider, which owns and manages 14,600 homes in Salford,  also introduced the pair to construction contractors Queensbridge, which was so impressed by their work that it took them on to decorate 50 City West properties – their biggest contract to date.

Viv Simon, Head of Enterprise at City West, said: “Growing a business is always a tricky challenge, especially in the face of large competition, but it’s important that local firms are given the best chance to help boost the economy.

“Fran and Lou are a perfect example of the kind of businesses we want to help succeed, and what they have been able to achieve in the short space of time from when we first sat down is nothing short of amazing.”

Viv adds: “To date, we’ve been able to help 53 people through our Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme, and with a further 28 currently enrolled we know the programme will help many more to realise their potential.”

If you have got a great business idea you want to make a reality, or want to find out more about the Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme, please get in contact with City West’s commercial team on 0161 605 7792, or email


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