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The owner of a Nelson-based business, which specialises in supplying heath products, has launched a new venture after spotting a gap in the market.

Ben Blackburn, who set up Blackburn Distributions in 2004 and went on to win a Young Entrepreneur award in 2010, launched Expert Import Handling Ltd this year to help people manage their imports.

Blackburn Distributions re-packages and distributes pharmaceutical, health and sports supplements and Ben said Expert Import Handling came as the next natural step to help people who do their buying directly, but have no expertise in importing.

Ben explained: “The aim of Expert Import is to help people who are buying directly from the supplier –  for example research facilities and manufacturers of health products – to successfully import the products by using our knowledge and expertise.

“The idea naturally evolved out of Blackburn Distributions and in the last few months we’ve started working with a number of profitable clients and following on from this growth we’re planning to add two more members to the team in the coming months.”

Expert Import Handling has received support from Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub, through its Growth Support Programme, which helps entrepreneurs launch their new enterprises.

Boost is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The fully funded programme, delivered by Winning Pitch and Enterprise4all, provides help to develop a personal action plan, Lean Launchpad sessions outlining key principles for developing a new business and one-to-one coaching support for business owners.

Ben said: “The Boost events were very informative and a good chance to improve our skill set – I came away with more ideas than I have time to implement – all of which will be helpful to us as a growing business.”

Rona McFall, head of entrepreneurial solutions at Winning Pitch, said: “It’s clear that Ben knows how to run a business but he’s also a really good example of the benefits of refreshing and improving skills and knowledge to make sure that business can continue in the right direction and achieve its objectives. Often our programmes give people food for thought, ideas they might not have thought about or methods to help improve what they’re already doing well. We’re pleased to have been able to support Ben and his team.”

Boost Business Lancashire has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding

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