POD, based at 42 Market Place, Bishop Auckland, was launched by the Auckland Castle Trust with funding from the John Armitage Charitable Trust, to provide workshop, studio and retail space, as well as support and mentoring, for creative and artisan companies from across County Durham.
Now, just a year after launching, the incubator hub’s first tenant, Gillian Arnold Design Ltd, is expanding into its own commercial premises - paving the way for more fledgling businesses to follow in its footsteps.
Gillian Arnold Design Ltd, which creates botanically inspired homewares, gifts and jewellery for sale in more than 200 stores around the UK, was originally run from home by Gillian and her husband Tim.
They worked closely with Jane Ruffer and the Auckland Castle Trust in the development of POD and have been helping to mentor their fellow tenants there since 2015.
The brand now employs four full time members of staff, and is set to take on its own commercial premises at Fore Bondgate, Bishop Auckland, where the administrative and design team will relocate in September, with manufacturing continuing at POD until late 2016.
Tim Scott, Manager at Gillian Arnold Design Ltd, said: “The whole experience at POD has been amazing for us, it enabled us to move the business out of our home and into purpose built offices, which in turn has allowed us to expand and develop at a fantastic rate.
“Being able to sell our products in POD’s retail space has also proven there’s a viable market for us in Bishop Auckland, which we explored further with a pop up shop earlier this year.
“Thanks to the support of the Auckland Castle Trust we are now able to move into our own, independent site, but will still be working closely with POD to mentor new and existing tenants and hopefully help others to achieve the same.”
POD, which has six private studios, as well as a public gallery and retail area downstairs, has welcomed work by more than 50 County Durham artists since its launch.
POD Manager, Kate Gorman, said: “When POD was launched by Jane Ruffer and the Auckland Castle Trust it was hoped that creative companies could use it to expand beyond home working and eventually grow to take over empty shops in Bishop Auckland and help revitalise the town centre.
“We are absolutely thrilled that this has come to fruition with Gillian Arnold Design Ltd and hope to see more of our tenants following suit.”
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