The owner of a County Durham based online store has achieved a 30% increase in trade on the back of free training designed to help local businesses boost skills and secure growth.

Alis Stoica has seen sales of her exclusive range of personalised mugs, gifts and t-shirts, which she sells through Alice’s Shop, take-off after completing a ‘Boost Your Business’ digital marketing course.

The skills she gained have equipped the 45-year-old Romanian with the confidence and expertise to drive the business forward during the first six months of trading.

Alis and her husband Florin, who came to the UK from Romania in 2003, opened for business in summer 2018, supplying to customers around the world from their Houghton-le-Spring base.

She says that ‘Boost Your Business’ has been a ‘transformative’ experience, playing a part in helping her to achieve 30% month-on-month growth.

Alis Stoica said: “We always wanted to have our own online business, but we had little experience of the digital marketing skills needed for success. Now, our dream is fast becoming a reality thanks to Boost Your Business.

“We have benefitted hugely from the experience, as well as the networking opportunities it provided. Sales continue to grow, and we can only see more success as the business moves forward on the back of our new-found digital marketing expertise.”

‘Boost Your Business’ is part of a package of training support that hundreds of local organisations can benefit from as part of the skills and enterprise initiative, Go>Grow.

This is being overseen by Gateshead College in partnership with over 20 other training providers, following the securement of £21m in funding from the European Social Fund through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Adam Clemerson, skills project manager at course deliverer North East Enterprise Agency Ltd, said: “The Stoicas have clearly benefitted from Boost Your Business, gaining the critical insight and knowledge required for success in a tough retail sector. I look forward to seeing them go from strength-to-strength.”

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, added: “Alice’s Shop is a fantastic example of how hundreds of entrepreneurs and small businesses right across the North East can take advantage of training to grow their businesses, create jobs and secure a bright, strong future.”