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Manchester marketing agency behind Love Island campaign set to open first London Office

(L-R) Stewart Hilton and Robert White

A Manchester marketing business which was formed just four years ago in a boiler room is to open its first London office with a Year 5 target turnover of £7 million.

Zeal Creative, which is based in Media City in Salford, delivers promotional and marketing campaigns for some of the UK’s biggest brands including Nestlé, Kellogg’s and Pringles.

Most recently, it helped to launch a partnership for Kellogg’s with Love Island, giving fans of the ITV2 hit programme the chance to win poolside tickets to the show’s final.

Zeal Creative has gone from strength to strength since it was set up in 2014 from a boiler room near a bus station after securing a £10,000 low-interest loan from the Government-backed Start-Up Loans Company (SULCo).

The agency saw its revenue double in the first two years and now the business has moved to a new 3,500 sq ft office to accommodate the ever-expanding team, which now stands at 42 full time staff. The business – whose current turnover is approximately £4.9 million –  is also about to open a London office to help service increasing work from Nestlé HQ in Gatwick.

Stewart Hilton, 46, and Robert White, 45, the agency’s co-founders, decided to pursue their dream of starting their own marketing business after working together for 20 years.

Although they had the expertise and contacts in place to grow a successful business, they lacked the capital to kick-start their venture. In 2014, they approached SULCo and used the low-interest loan to buy office equipment, cover recruitment fees and travel expenses to attend client meetings in the initial stages. The money was crucial in allowing them to meet with 21 potential clients in the first three months, leading to eleven secured projects.

New figures from SULCo show that it has lent almost £50 million to small businesses in the North West since the Government-backed scheme launched six years ago.

A total of 6,797 businesses in the North West – and over 55,000 across the UK – have received low-interest loans with the average loan in the North West totalling £7,300.

Stewart Hilton, Co-founder of Zeal Creative said: “Since launching our business in 2014 from a small boiler room, we’ve not looked back. After only four years, Robert and I have managed to attract some of the world’s biggest brands and we’re confident that our new office in London will open more doors.

“Although Robert and I had worked in marketing for many years, we never would have achieved this level of success without the low-interest loan from the Start-up Loans Company. Its mentoring service was also invaluable. It allowed us to grow our network and supported us every step of the way with fantastic advice.”

Joanna Hill, Managing Director of the Start Up Loans Company, said: “It’s been fantastic to watch how Zeal Creative has grown in such a short space of time. It’s a great example of how a start-up loan can really support and encourage people who have a dream of starting their own business. The company’s client base is impressive, and the fact that Stewart and Robert will now have an office in London as well as in Manchester, is testament to their hard-work and dedication.

“We know how difficult it can be to start your own business, even when you have the expertise and network to get started. But with the right financial and mentoring support, prospective business owners can start on the best possible footing. We want to make business ownership a viable career for individuals who struggle to raise finance.”