Burnley brand manager Rachel Bayley speaks to Chris Forrest the founder of signage company TCB Designs

Burnley is an entrepreneurial borough – in fact, a huge portion of our businesses are classedat the smaller end of the employee count scale, reflecting our amazing number of start-upsand ‘let’s-give-it-a-go’ attitude.
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One such resident who has always shown a flair for selling is Chris Forrest. From designing and selling keyrings in a local restaurant as a child to now running his own signage company – TCB Designs - at just 29 years old, Chris has always enjoyed being creative.

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He started his career running Blu Bar in Burnley town centre, using his creative skills to design promotional posters for the bar’s events. It felt like a natural progression that when Chris heard that the owner of a local signage company was moving abroad, he bought into the business. This change in career served as a steep learning curve, as Chris explains: “While I had lots of transferable skills from running the bar, moving into the signage industry was a massive change.

Chris Forrest (third from right) with his team at TCB Designs, the Burnley based signage company he launched five years agoChris Forrest (third from right) with his team at TCB Designs, the Burnley based signage company he launched five years ago
Chris Forrest (third from right) with his team at TCB Designs, the Burnley based signage company he launched five years ago
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" I managed to gain some great clients, like BMW and EFS Global, but there were lots of hurdles too. I definitely learnt lessons the hard way, but the experience helped me to grow.”

With some experience under his belt and investment from his dad, five years ago Chris took the plunge and decided to set up on his own, and TCB Designs was born. The company, which at the time consisted of just Chris and girlfriend Mhairi, initially focussed on printing clothing for university societies and creating shop signage for small local businesses.

“We spent hours emailing university societies every month to see if we could help with the group uniforms and from a £600 cutter, we would work through the day into the night cutting and weeding clothing vinyl. There were many times when I would sleep over in the shop just to keep the machine running to complete deadlines.

"To make it worse, our first shop on Brown Street didn’t have a toilet – the staff at Marks and Spencer’s were convinced we worked there, as we were in there so often using the facilities!” laughs Chris.

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Since the company’s launch in 2018, the team has grown to eleven, with the most recent recruit focusing solely on writing tenders and bid applications, with the aim of gaining larger contracts across the country. As the business has grown, the team has found that they have

needed to expand their skillsets as well. In addition to designing and manufacturing signage, they also wrap vehicles, install neon signs and knock down walls and plaster to hide wires.

A Burnley company through and through, founder Chris is proud to be based in his hometown: “I absolutely love Burnley; we’ve got the best businesses, great bars and restaurants, and brilliant views.

"There’s also a great business community. When I started TCB Designs, we quickly built relationships with the local businesses around us. They put their trust in us and as their businesses grew, they continued to work with us,” says Chris.

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Over the last five years, TCB has generated an impressive client base including Barnfield Construction, Burnley Football Club, Calico and Burnley Leisure and Culture Group. Not to many a huge swathe of the shop fronts in Burnley town centre. We love it when Burnley

businesses come together in this way and wish Chris and his team all the best for their next five years of growth.

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