New recruit Rachel Longstone

One of the UK’s leading toy manufacturers has invested around £150,000 in new facilities and personnel to enhance its digital offer after receiving nearly £70,000 from a grant programme supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.

Golden Bear Products, which has been transforming favourite children’s TV characters into toys for over 40 years, has been awarded £ 67,845 from the Marches Building Investment Grant (MBIG) for the new facilities at its head office in Hortonwood.

The company has used the funding to create a new photographic studio and take on new staff to drive a growth in online sales.

“We have invested around £150,000, supported by the grant funding, in a new dedicated photo studio space,” said Managing Director Barry Hughes. “We are very grateful for this vital support.”


The new studio will allow the firm to immediately service its growing list of retail clients with top class photo imagery and assets to assist with online sales for their retail clients.

Two new specialists have also been recruited to strengthen the Golden Bear digital team. Emily Swinnerton is the firm’s new Digital Assets Coordinator and Rachel Longstone joins as Digital Marketing Executive.

“With the ever-increasing importance of online sales we are delighted to have appointed Rachel and Emily, allowing even more resources to be concentrated on this burgeoning sector,” Mr Hughes said.

“Their experience and skills will allow us to service our retailers’ needs better with even more innovation, agility and efficiency.

“I am convinced that both Rachel and Emily will make an immediate impact in driving more sales for the business.”

The MBIG programme offers grants of up to £150,000 to help meet the cost of building new premises or extending and reconfiguring existing ones. It is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Marches Growth Hub.

Programme Manager Caroline Cattle said: “Golden Bear is a landmark company in the region and we are delighted that this grant help has allowed the company to develop its digital offer and take on new staff.”

Gill Hamer, Marches LEP chief executive, said: “This is excellent news for Golden Bear and for both Telford and the wider economy. The MBIG programme is specifically designed to help companies meet their growth ambitions and ensure that the Marches LEP and Growth Hub are delivering real results to drive forward our economy.”

Mr Hughes added that Golden Bear had received help from both the Marches Growth Hub and Enterprise Telford through the application process and was also building additional meeting room space at its head office, where a total of 50 people are employed.

The five-acre site, which houses a modern warehouse and distribution facility of 74,000 sq. ft., is supplemented by a Hong Kong office which co-ordinates production and oversees manufacturing quality.

The MBIG programme, which is delivered by Herefordshire Council, meets up to half the cost of successful applications, meaning that projects costing up to £300,000 could secure a grant of £150,000. The scheme covers B2B businesses and does not include retail, social welfare or agricultural companies.

Herefordshire Council is the accountable body for the MBIG scheme.