A successful North East adaptive living business is going for growth after a change of ownership with the help of a six-figure investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund.
Dolphin Stairlifts (North East) and Shape Adaptations have been purchased by Stephen and Mary Smith and brought together to form the Depend Group, which will act as a one-stop-shop for elderly and disabled people who need assistance to continue living safely and independently in their homes.
The new owners worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £150,000 Growth Capital Fund investment, which it will use to help increase the number of local authorities with which it can work, extend its marketing activity and develop and deliver new products to market.
Up to four new jobs are expected to be created as the business grows, while Stephen and Mary’s son Christopher has joined the business to run the Dolphin side of its operations.
Shape Adaptations was set up in 2007 as a result of Stephen and Mary having to make changes to their own home to meet the mobility and personal needs of their other son James, who uses a wheelchair, and realising there were many other families facing similar situations.
After working collaboratively with Dolphin Stairlifts on a number of projects, Shape was acquired by Dolphin’s owner Bob Lines in 2012, with Stephen continuing to manage Shape’s operations ever since.
Based at the Newcastle Airport Industrial Estate, the new overarching business provides bespoke design, build, installation and maintenance services to several local authorities around the North East and North Yorkshire, and currently employs 17 staff.
It also works with a number of private clients, and acts as a designer and supplier of adaptive living products for national operators in the sector.
Stephen Smith said: “Taking advantage of the opportunity to take on both businesses and bring them together made clear sense and gives us a strong platform on which to build their operations by combining the teams’ impressive skillsets.
“We know from our own experience the challenges that individuals and facilities face in adapting their living spaces and the bespoke solutions we create in response to individuals’ particular situations are based upon many years’ practical experience.
“Our focus for growing the business will remain primarily on our home area, and while we already work with a number of local authorities across the North East, there are others that we’ve not previously had the capacity to target where we know the same needs exist.”
Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The professional and personal experience that Stephen, Mary and Christopher bring to the business make a powerful combination, and it now has the resources required to continue to develop its presence across the region.”