SIX months on from completing its first order, new worker cooperative Accommodation Furniture Solutions (AFS Ltd) is going from strength to strength.
That is the view of cooperative managing director Kevin Edwards, who said that support from Business Wales, the Welsh Government’s business advisory arm, has been instrumental in helping the company to grow.
AFS Ltd was registered in March 2013 by seven ex-Remploy staff who invested their redundancy money into a new worker cooperative on the site of the former Remploy factory at Fforestfach, Swansea.
The company started production in October 2013 initially assembling kitchen units but has since moved into complete furniture manufacturing for social housing, local authorities, and other organisations such as Cardiff YMCA. It has been receiving general business support from Business Wales including help with cash flow forecasting and accounts.
Kevin Edwards said, “We have a great collaborative relationship with our adviser, Angie Dewitt. It’s been like a mini business education for us in terms of the support. Angie has taught us how to set up our accounting system and shown us what software package to use.
“She’s also delivered tutorials on accounting and helped us with our cashflow systems. Whenever we’ve had problems, she’s always been there to help.”
AFS Ltd has successfully applied for £9000 of funding through the Welsh Government’s SME Small Capital Investment Grant with help from Business Wales.
“Our adviser supported us all the way through with the application process and has also been extremely useful in terms of reviewing our policies and procedures and helping us to streamline our operations.
“All in all Business Wales has been a huge help. We’d also like to thank the Wales Cooperative Centre and Remploy for their help in getting us started,” said Kevin Edwards.
The venture has also received approval for support through the Welsh Government’s Employer Support Grant scheme, which offers financial support for employers looking to provide work to eligible disabled Remploy workers.
The company now has ten full-time staff and is looking to expand its manufacture of furniture for housing associations and other social housing providers.
AFS Ltd can be contacted at 01792 588410.
Contact Business Wales on 03000 6 03000, visit www.business.wales.gov.uk