The founder of a nail polish manufacturer based in Invergordon has said it is close to securing new contracts in India, Ukraine and Mexico which could see it increase its workforce in the Easter Ross town.
SMC Cosmetics, set up a year ago by engineer Andrew Pearson, already supplies bulk orders to customers in the UK and a number of overseas markets.
The company recently secured funding from Highland Council’s Growth Fund and Business Loan Scotland to help with its expansion plans.
Mr Pearson grew up in the Highlands after moving to the area in the early 1990s. Having worked as a chartered engineer in Glasgow, he returned north to the bring up his young family.
SMC Cosmetics, established with the help of Mr Pearson’s father, who had extensive previous experience in the nail polish industry, now employs eight people.
He originally approached the council-managed Highland Opportunity (Investments) fund for advice and support in setting up the business after struggling to gain backing from traditional lenders.
Mr Pearson said: “SMC was classed as a high-risk project by traditional lending sources, however Highland Council helped us throughout by critically evaluating and supporting our plans and helping us by simplifying the process.
“It was frustrating, with attitudes of many lenders only alleviated by Highland Council’s team support and belief in what we are seeking to achieve. Without their commitment it may have been difficult to achieve our success.”
The initial help was backed by support from Business Loan Scotland – another funding stream available through the local authority, aimed at improving the efficiency and productivity of the business.
Mr Pearson added: “SMC has already taken on eight employees and is looking towards future growth in the market which will increase employment in the Highlands.
“We are looking to rival the seven or eight main manufacturers in the world with contracts won due to our commitment, flexibility and minimal lead times.”
Helen Carmichael, Provost of Highland Council and chair of Highland Opportunity (Investments) said: “Highland Council is pleased with the success to date of SMC and that our support both of finance but also in advice and guidance has helped cement the company within the community and support their growth plans.”
Mr Pearson and the council declined to comment on the levels of funding, on the grounds of commercial sensitivity.