Sketchbook manufacturer moves to Barnsley and invests in growth

A specialist manufacturer of sketchbooks for students has moved to Barnsley and launched a strategy for growth.

Pink Pig has invested around £350,000 in its relocation to larger premises at Dodworth Business Park in Barnsley where it aims to increase production four-fold over the next five years.

The company’s new 15,000 square foot workshop, warehouse and offices are nearly twice the size of its former base ten miles away at Emley, near Huddersfield.

Pink Pig’s managing director Nick Wilson said: “We’ve moved to consolidate our whole operation; update, streamline and expand production.”

Pink Pig currently produce around 700,000 sketchbooks a year but aim to ramp that up to more than three million within five years.

The company has invested £200,000 in new punching and binding equipment and its experienced 23-strong workforce – including two apprentices – has moved with them from Emley. Plans are in place to create seven new jobs before the end of 2016.

Pink Pig’s move has been supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

The manufacturer, which has a £1.4 million turnover, has grown year-on-year since it was established by Nick 23 years ago. It now sells its range of sketchbooks to 1,700 secondary schools and colleges across the UK. Pink Pig has built a strong reputation and is the main supplier in this niche market.

Nick said: “Every art student needs a good sketchbook and schools need to be able to supply them. We meet that demand and our catalogues are sent to heads of art at state and private schools from Inverness to Penzance.”

Pink Pig also sells through art shops and direct to artists across the UK and overseas via its own website and e-commerce channels such as Amazon.

It currently has distribution facilities in Germany, France and the USA and plans to expand these into Brazil, Spain, Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Export represents two per cent of its trade today and Nick aims to increase this to 50 per cent by 2020.

Nick said: “I reckon there are about five million Pink Pig sketchbooks out there in use at this time and that is great.

Sketchbooks are very important to an artist and ours are the choice of many because we produce high quality products for use with all mediums from gouache and water colour to pen, ink and wash.”

Pink Pig has recently launched a new product where buyers can personalise the covers of their own sketchbooks online and a ‘cappuccino sketchbook’ part-made with recycled coffee cups. Its products use high quality paper from UK suppliers, banana, Thai silk and recycled material.

Nick named the company after a pink pig motif he designed as a Leeds Polytechnic art student and had tattooed on his arm for a fiver. His business started with him making hand-made sketchbooks in his cellar in 1991. Nick’s wife Emma and sister-in-law Rachel Hardwick are now co-directors of the family run firm.

Enterprising Barnsley has supported Pink Pig during it relocation including help to secure funding and make local connections.

Nick said: “The welcome we’ve had in Barnsley has been fantastic. The team at Enterprising Barnsley have always been responsive, helpful and quick to put us in touch with the right people and offered us very valuable free support.”

Enterprising Barnsley business development manager Steve Hawkins said: “Pink Pig manufacture a well-known and high quality product for a market they are well-placed to grow. We’re delighted to welcome their impressive and productive factory to Barnsley and look forward to supporting them to build an even bigger business”.

Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

Pink Pig director Nick Wilson


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