J Atkinson & Co was established in Lancaster in 1837 as a family business and quietly served the families of the area with teas and coffees. Eleven years ago when the original family had gone, the Steel family bought the business and by hard work and enthusiasm transformed the business into one of the foremost wholesale and retail suppliers of specialist teas and coffees in the North West.
Using equipment that has to be cannibalised to keep going, the family have expanded the range of products available, opened two very popular coffee houses, supplied many of the hotels and restaurants in the region and even provided training ensuring customers serve their coffees in a way guaranteed to bring out the best flavours and taste.

Sourcing their supplies of green beans directly from several growers, they were restricted by premises which were becoming unfit for purpose and equipment which could not produce the wide variety of coffees they wished to offer. After a proposal to the Lancashire Business Growth Fund (LBGF) for help towards the cost of a brand new coffee roaster, computer equipment and building improvements, they have been granted of £43,035, 20% of their eventual outlay.

Ian Steel and his cannibalised coffee roasters from the 1930’s

As Ian Steel said,

“This investment allows us to create our own blends of coffee thereby broadening our offer to the businesses of Lancaster and beyond. It enables us to alter the building to create the smooth transition from green beans to coffee ready for drinking. It also gives us the opportunity of increasing our workforce by 4.”.

John Regan, President of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce commented

“We are so pleased to support our Member with their growth and help them to access this grant. I would urge all fellow Lancastrians to talk to the Chambers team to see how this capital investment grant fund may be able to benefit them.”

The new roaster

The Regional Growth Fund-supported Lancashire Business Growth Fund is a programme offering capital investment grants and international trade support to businesses across the county.

The programme is intended to create 600 new jobs and safeguard a further 200.

Its key aim is to accelerate the creation of sustainable jobs by encouraging companies to bring forward growth projects on a bigger scale with a larger impact at a time when those jobs are most needed.

Businesses bidding for grants from the scheme can claim up to 20 per cent of the total project costs with the remaining costs leveraged from the bank or investment.

To be eligible for the programme, projects must involve the acquisition of new premises, infrastructure, machinery, expansion or another suitable form of capital investment.

For more information about LBGF Grant funding please contact Stephanie Warrington at s.warrington@chamberelancs.co.uk or 01254 356473