A Sunderland street food business is celebrating the taste of success after taking advantage of a free training programme designed to upskill SMEs.

Calder’s Kitchen, based in the heart of Sunderland City Centre has seen an increase in business after taking part in a ‘Boost Your Business’ course delivered through regional skills and enterprise programme Go>Grow.

The ‘Boost Your Business’ course, delivered by several agencies, collectively known as North East Enterprise Agency is being rolled out to SMEs across the region as part of a £1m package of business improvement support.

Andrew and Anne-Marie Calder, the entrepreneurs behind Calder’s Kitchen, which produces the classic British condiment piccalilli, but with a twist. Alongside selling traditional homemade piccalilli, Calder’s Kitchen offers ‘Chillilili’ and ‘Sillylili’, both flavours originate from a recipe created by Andrew’s grandfather, and are incredibly hot and spicy.

Andrew and Anne-Marie took advantage of the course to learn how to develop their business further, increase growth and gain new digital marketing skills.

Andrew Calder said that the course was ‘invaluable’ and ‘hugely beneficial’ to his business, and added: “The course was really intense, but I took so much away from it and learnt a lot. When I got home after completing the course, I put my new-found skills to the test and used four new social media resources.

“The demand for our products has definitely increased. Not only have we learnt social media skills that we can continue to use going forward, but our business has seen an increase of [insert percentage] since undertaking the course, which I hope will only continue to grow.”

The Sunderland-based business was awarded a ‘Great Taste’ award in 2016 by the Guild of Fine Food, which recognises excellent food standards, as well as a ‘Small Business Sunday’ award, backed by multi-millionaire and former Dragon’s Den star Theo Pathitis. The three-day ‘Boost Your Business’ course has helped hundreds of North East based SMEs since April 2017, with plans to roll out further free training for dozens more of North East businesses this year.

Designed to equip individuals and businesses with marketing, sales and business improvement skills, the course covers a breath of topics – including understanding social media, using digital media for business and producing digital content for business.

Adam Clemerson, skills project manager for North East Enterprise Agency, said: “Several like-minded agencies came together to form a consortium, all with the same idea of helping small North East businesses upskill, boost productivity and improve performance.

“The initiative means that we are able to offer the training in various locations across the region, which enables all eligible businesses a chance to participate.

“We want as many businesses as possible to take up this fantastic opportunity of free training, as well as gaining a wider understanding of business enterprise.

“We have helped hundreds of North East businesses like Calder’s Kitchen, and are well on our way to delivering £1m of fully-funded training to businesses across the region.”