A move into new premises has given a Tees equestrian business the office and storage space it needs to specialise in the growth area of saddle fitting.
Priory Saddlery, owned by Lizzy Bunting with her business partner and fiancé Paul Freeman, has now taken over a workshop, as well as office space, at UK Steel Enterprise’s Innovation Centre on the Kirkleatham Business Park in Redcar.
The couple, from Redcar but now living in Saltburn, decided to focus their business on the supply and fitting of a whole range of saddles – for children with their first ponies right up to professional riders.
Having run an equestrian shop in Guisborough for around 10 years, they found themselves battling an increasing amount of competition from Internet and online sellers.
“Although it was a real wrench to close the shop, we realised we needed to specialise in order to grow the business,” said Lizzy, who has a background in retail and marketing but a lifelong love of horses.
“Saddles can be an expensive purchase, ranging from around £400 for a synthetic saddle for a pony right up to WOW saddles that start at £2,600 and lots in between. We had always provided a wide choice of brands and offered a fitting service to help customers get the best saddle for them and their horse and avoid costly mistakes.
“I studied with the Society of Master Saddlers and became a qualified fitter in 2009. We already had a large customer base but now we are specialising in saddle fitting we are attracting more. Many are from Darlington, Richmond and other local areas but we also have clients in Northumberland and Yorkshire,” she added.
Priory Saddlery stocks a wide range of saddles and associated tack, provides an on-going back-up service with regular fitting checks and a local repair service.
“We were particularly keen to move into the Innovation Centre because it provides all the services and facilities we need,” said Lizzy Bunting. “With a manned reception we know that deliveries and collections will be dealt with when we are out visiting customers and there is ample free parking. There wasn’t a workshop vacant when we first enquired so we started out in an office but UK Steel Enterprise did everything they could to get us into the first available workshop quickly.
“With shutter doors opening directly into the car park it is ideal for loading and unloading heavy saddles. We are delighted to be here and are confident about the future for Priory Saddlery.”
Sue Kirk of UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business-support subsidiary, said: “We have more than 80 tenants in our Innovation Centres in Redcar and Hartlepool and our aim is always to provide them with the space and facilities that they need so that they can grow their business successfully and speedily.”
Details of UK Steel Enterprise’s support for businesses (finance and premises) from 01642 777 777 and at www.uksteelenterprise.co.uk. Priory Saddlery is on 01642 777 970 and at www.priorysaddlery.com
Photo: Sue Kirk (left) of UK Steel Enterprise with Lizzy Bunting of Priory Saddlery in the new workshop at the Innovation Centre.