A North Yorkshire company famous for an iconic poster of a tennis player revealing her bottom has secured a loan to help it export to Europe.
Athena has been an art publisher for over 50 years and once ran a department store chain, the last of which closed in 2014.
The new company is now owned by Simon Coates, a former director of the original Athena company, and his business partner Nick Morgan. The duo took the business online in 2012 and now supply up to 250,000 product ranges from their factory workshop in Easingwold.
The company, which employs a team of 20, is also a leading supplier of picture frames through the Vivarti site, providing artwork for consumers, hotels, commercial interiors and rental investors.
The company, which had already started selling in Europe, reports a transformation over the past two years to adapt its systems to comply with changes in export regulations, and European sales are picking up again. increase accordingly.
She has now secured a £150,000 loan from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF). The financing will help further expand its exports to Europe and increase inventory levels to enable it to pursue its growth plans.
Nick Morgan said: “With 400 million consumers, Europe is an important market for us and it was difficult to adapt to the new regulations. However, now that things have calmed down, we have been able to navigate the new customs arrangements and put measures in place to comply with the rules. The funding will help us rebuild and strengthen our trade with Europe.
Andy Clough from Mercia added: “Nick and Simon are both very experienced operators who have spent years in artistic production. It’s great to be able to help them re-establish their exports to Europe and support the growth of this iconic brand.
Sean Hutchinson, of the British Business Bank, said: “The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund supports a wide range of businesses and it is fantastic to see Athena using funds to improve and stay competitive as it seeks to grow. .
“The export of goods and services plays a vital role for the UK economy, acting as a major driver of economic growth, while creating profits and jobs. It’s great to see NPIF supporting companies like Athena in their export activities and support their growth plans.
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Program 2014-2020 and by the European Investment Bank.