Finance raised with support from the Hub helped Breakout Manchester continue operating during the pandemic and secure the future of the company.
Breakout Manchester is a popular live escape room game in the city centre, in which guests attempt to solve puzzles and challenges. As with so many businesses hit by the lockdown, the challenge for Breakout Manchester was to still be trading when restrictions were lifted.
Working with the GC Business Growth Hub, director Ed Roberts focused on building business resilience and accessing funds set up by the Government to help companies through the pandemic. These included a £50k Bounce Back Loan, alongside £45k in other COVID-19 restrictions grants.
Following the first lockdown, the business also successfully applied for a Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant, which they used to install a new ventilation system to make their site more Covid-secure once it re-opened.
Ed also set about diversifying the business by developing Breakout Unboxed, an escape room in a box, which can be ordered online. For an insight into good practice around web sales strategies, their account manager facilitated a networking session with another Hub client, Wicker Wings. This helped guide the product launch in November 2020, with the game proving an important new income stream for the business, with 1,000 products sold in the first 3 months.
“Developing the new game also allowed the team to introduce Ed to the R&D tax relief scheme,” adds Darren Flannery, Senior Account Manager, “which is designed to provide tax relief to companies working on innovative projects and led to a £54k cash injection into the business.”
To further grow online sales, the Hub’s Digital Innovation team carried out a digital diagnosis of the business and is now working together with Ed to help develop a more comprehensive and pro-active digital strategy.
Ed was also referred to the Hub’s Mentoring Service, which matched him with Andrew Dixon, now CEO of the Residential Landlords Association, but who also has considerable retail experience. He was able to offer advice on both the launch of the new product and the reopening of the escape rooms.
The finance raised, along with the income generated from the new product, enabled the business to continue operating throughout the pandemic and re-open in May.
As Ed explains: “By making a decision to diversify our business with support from GC Business Growth Hub, I’ve been able to launch new online gaming products that have generated income for the business through lockdown.
“The account management team have guided me through a number of options, including help with claiming R&D tax credits that have safeguarded our operations. This has allowed for the retention and hiring of new staff to secure the future of the company as we prepared to reopen the core business.”