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Transforming a Disused Warehouse into a Digital Workspace - 13/12/16
Web and print design agency Umber Creative has worked with Humber LEP and Hull City Council to invest in local people and an abandoned place.

Until recently, Umber Creative had been based at The University of Hull since its inception, starting with an incubation space in the Enterprise Centre before progressing to offices in Newlands Science Park. However, due to consistent growth in workflow, staff force and capabilities, the design studio has now purchased a historic city centre building.

Investment was always on the cards for Umber, with Creative Director Kevin Wilkie and Digital Director Luke Foster waiting for the right opportunity. Whilst many premises have been up for sale over the years, it wasn't until they spotted that Edmund House in St Mark's Square was available that they knew it was time to take action.

""This isn't just about more space and shaping our environment,"" explains Kevin. ""Buying this old warehouse also means that we can control costs, which benefits our customers, whilst reviving a piece of the city's heritage.""

The development was made possible with the help of local organisations and authorities. Rather than receiving the keys and moving straight in, substantial work was required to make the premises safe, secure, comfortable and befitting a modern marketing company. A major contribution was in the form of funding from the RGF Growing the Humber programme, managed by Humber LEP.

David Kilburn, Chair of the decision-making Investment Panel, said: ""One of the Humber LEP's strategic priorities is 'Thriving Successful Businesses'. We supplied 20% of the total project cost, with a key requirement being that three new jobs are created. Umber Creative is part of the Humber's innovative and growing digital sector, helping to make the area an attractive place to invest.""

This major development is joined by another significant milestone for Umber, namely the appointment of Tom Holland as Technical Director. With over sixteen years of commercial experience in delivering online solutions, for clients that include EDF Energy, Sony, Royal Sun Alliance and Digital Cinema Media, he brings to Umber advanced full-stack development skills. These are combined with specialisms in building content management and backend systems, as well as API creation and integration.

""Our newly acquired expertise means that Umber can now provide the full spectrum of web services to customers from all industries,"" said Kevin. ""This perfectly complements our existing relationship with data centres and commitment to high quality, bespoke web solutions.""

This is in reference to Umber's ethos that all of their services should be tailored to individual projects. Their developers don't use open-source platforms such as WordPress, instead choosing to build unique infrastructures based around the exact needs and crucial nuances of the client.

""The result is a website that is more than just a skin,"" added Kevin. ""It has depth and integrity, working the way it should whilst remaining adaptable. It's extremely secure, future-proof and an accurate reflection of the client's brand. It's everything an online marketing hub should be.""

With the expanding team now based in a fully renovated studio, with cobbled streets outside their windows and the city's trade and tech centres on their doorstep, they finally feel at home. This is also thanks to a few local businesses that went above and beyond to see that everything was delivered on time.

""We've worked with multiple builders, suppliers and decorators,"" said Luke. ""The support and advice that we received from P E Davis & Son, Delaney Marlin, 360 Accountants, Natwest and Hull City Council was absolutely invaluable.""

Councillor Martin Mancey, Portfolio Holder for Economic Regeneration, said: ""Part of our role at the City Council is to encourage and support business investment and growth, and ultimately the creation of new jobs. We were pleased to assist Umber Creative with their growth plans, including securing grant funding towards their move into larger freehold premises. We wish them continued success in the future.""

With projects ranging from brochure design for Carnaby Caravans to eCommerce websites for Alpha Karaoke, the brand specialists at Umber are already very much back into the swing of things.

""We're not a small fly-by-night design agency,"" assured Kevin. ""We love this city and want to play our part in its economic evolution. Umber Creative is here to stay.""

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