Venture aims to help students Paccup troubles

Some of the best ideas come from a chat with friends down the local pub over a pint. At least, this was where three mates from Knaresborough had their eureka moment.

Craig De Vere and brothers Sam and Tom Chambers are lifelong friends who, when mulling over ideas for a business venture aimed at the student market, devised Paccup, a service aimed at making settling into university as easy as possible.

De Vere, 20, said: “Like millions of students before us, once Sam, Tom and I arrived at our halls of residence we then made the obligatory trip to the shops to buy the essentials. Moving to university is stressful. Instead of trudging around the streets, we would sooner have been socialising with our peers and exploring our new surroundings.”

Paccup is designed to eliminate the so-called ‘boring’ part of student life. According to De Vere, it “provides students with a convenient solution to get all the essentials needed for their new kitchen, bathroom and bedroom and also bring them a touch of home comforts”.

There are three Paccup packages available for students: bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Each of them contains items relevant for each room as well as other essentials. Once an order has been received and paid for, the Paccup is dispatched to the relevant university to await the student’s arrival.

Although the business has only been going a few months, the three founders have joined forces with the highly successful Yorkshire Linen Company thanks to its managing director Ross Leventhal.

De Vere explained how the connection was made: “When we were sourcing products for each Paccup, we contacted The Yorkshire Linen Company. Ross then suggested a meeting as he was intrigued about the concept. The result is that Ross is now mentoring the three of us and the Yorkshire Linen Co is a shareholder in Paccup.”

Leventhal was impressed by the Paccup concept and the business plan behind it. He has confidence that it will be a success.

“They did a presentation to me and I saw there was a lot of synergy in what they were trying to set up with our business,” Leventhal said.

“We’d done small amounts of this sort of thing in the past but never had the resources or time to go after this. I liked what they told me. Their enthusiasm was excellent, they’d done a lot of work on it and the concept was right. I decided I would back them.”

The Yorkshire Linen Company is a family-run business which was founded in 1993. From a single store in Halifax with 500sq ft of retail selling space, the firm now has 44 outlets and more than 300 staff. It opened a new store in Warrington last weekend.

The Yorkshire Linen Company also owns the Darley Mill Centre, in Harrogate, which it purchased in 2009.

In 2007, Ross and Kirsteen Leventhal acquired The Linen Warehouse, which owned and operated nine stores in the North West.

Paccup now operates from The Yorkshire Linen Company’s offices at the Hornbeam Business Park in Harrogate and uses its warehouse.

De Vere has left university and works full-time for Paccup as sales director. Both Tom, 21, and Sam, 20, are still at university.

De Vere said: “For us, being involved with Ross is ideal. Now we’re not just three naive students who think they can take on the world. To be honest, it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. We only set up the company in May. It’s all a bit surreal.”

With Leventhal and The Yorkshire Linen Company on board, Paccup has its sights set on a slew of other markets, including sheltered accommodation.

Leventhal explained: “The student business will only be once a year so I’ve pointed them in the right direction, such as local authorities which have care homes. We can provide them with things like flame retardant products.

“They can go after business throughout the year, there are a lot of other areas apart from the student market. I’ve opened their eyes to see what they can try and go after. I’m helping them to branch out.”

Spreading the word

The Yorkshire Linen Company, which is owned and run by Ross and Kirsteen Leventhal, opened its first store in Market Street, Halifax in February 1993, relocating to the town’s King Edward Street in 1999.

The company, based on Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, now owns 44 outlets in the UK, Spain and Portugal, employs a workforce in excess of 300 and has a turnover of more than £18m.

Last year the company spent more than £300,000 upgrading its stores in Harrogate, Leeds and Hartlepool, plus opening new stores in Congleton, Cheshire, and its second store on the Algarve in Portugal.

This month it opened a new store in Warrington.