Family-Owned Manchester Paint Business Attends The Amazon Innovation Accelerator Which Provides Free Training To Local Businesses

Businesses in Greater Manchester have taken part in the first of its kind Amazon Innovation Accelerator at the company’s state-of-the-art robotics fulfilment centre in Bolton.

The Accelerator – which this year is being rolled out in seven locations across the UK – provides businesses with free training and a unique behind-the-scenes look at how Amazon has scaled its operations in the UK.

Participating businesses from Greater Manchester benefitted from in-person training workshops delivered by senior Amazon leaders, site tours and demonstrations of the latest technologies being used by the company. Businesses also benefitted from a series of virtual masterclasses about how they can create an enhanced culture of innovation within their own organisations. After three weeks, participating businesses returned to the Bolton robotics fulfilment centre to review their progress.


“Our aim with the Amazon Innovation Accelerator is to support UK businesses to grow and create a culture of innovation within their own organisations,” said Amazon’s UK Regional Director Neil Travis. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from a pilot last year, and are excited to be expanding the activity this year to seven locations across the UK, driving growth in businesses like HMG Paints in Manchester and further afield.”


Amazon also worked closely with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce on the design and delivery of the programme. “We are delighted to be working with Amazon on this important and free to access initiative for small businesses. The Amazon Innovation Accelerator offers workshops and training for small businesses based on Amazon’s own expertise and digital leadership, and we encourage more small businesses to participate in it,” said Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, Deputy Director – Research & Information Systems


“What has really impressed me about the programme is how Amazon has worked with local businesses to support digital innovation,” said Phil Brickell, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bolton West. “They are helping local businesses to build an ecosystem for the future of their growth.”


HMG Paints is one of the businesses that attended the accelerator in Bolton. Rebecca Bristow, who is on the board of HMG Paints, shared her experience and encouraged others to apply for the free programme.

HMG Paints is the UK’s leading independent paint manufacturer. The company makes paint from scratch at its manufacturing site in Manchester.

The business was founded by Rebecca’s great grandfather in 1930. He sold his car to fund the dream, and employed some of his friends to get the business off the ground.


Rebecca Bristow

After the Second World War, Rebecca’s grandfather took over HMG Paints. At the time, there were hundreds of paint manufacturers around Manchester, but most of them are now closed.

Rebecca and her cousin Jonathan are board members, and part of the team that now runs HMG Paints generations later.

Rebecca says: “Against all odds, HMG Paints survived through the times. Now, our lab is one of the best paint labs that we know of in the world. Even though we’re quite a small business, we punch above our weight technically and compete on a global scale.”


Speaking on the business’s goals for 2024, Rebecca says, “We’re looking into how we can digitalise our processes to make HMG Paints more efficient. We have a lot of hoops to jump through for various regulation rules, and digitalisation would make compliance recording easier.

“We also want to up our storage capacity to bring it in line with our production capacity. We bought new machinery recently to help with production, and now we need to solve the problem of working effectively to store our products at a relatively small site.”


Through the Amazon Innovation Accelerator, Rebecca said she learned Amazon principles that have helped her think differently about how the company implements changes.

She shares: “HMG Paints has been through a lot in the past 94 years, and as we go on, we’re becoming more risk averse. This is natural, as we want to preserve the business, but it often stops us from making the changes we need to grow. In short, we can sometimes spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.

“The Amazon Innovation Accelerator opened my eyes to the fact that we can try ideas out, and if they don’t work, we can go back our old processes. It’s empowering for me to bring that back to the team, as they could see an idea they’ve had successfully implemented across the business. Gaining this perspective has been helpful for my mindset and decision making.”


Rebecca continues: “Amazon is such a huge company, and I think you expect businesses that operate at such scale to be slow and bureaucratic. Amazon isn’t, though. Getting an insight into how the company operates at the Amazon Innovation Accelerator was truly inspiring.

“It showed me that the principles the company operates by apply to businesses of all sizes, including us. What particularly resonated with me was how the company engages with people. When something goes wrong, they look at the process failure, they don’t point blame at people. We’re always looking to make our employees’ lives better, and it was helpful to see how we can focus on productivity gains whilst also assuring our team that we want to do what we do better so we can pay them more, operate on a bigger scale, and ultimately, grow.”


As part of a survey at the end of the Greater Manchester Amazon Innovation Accelerator, 81% of the businesses shared they have an improved understanding of the different types of innovation and how to do so in their business.


The Amazon Innovation Accelerator will be available in three further locations across the country throughout 2024:


  • Dunfermline
  • Dartford
  • Wakefield


Businesses operating in the manufacturing, engineering, logistics, retail or related industries and employing 25 or more staff and generating a revenue between £1million and £10million are eligible to apply for participation in the programme. For more information, please contact [email protected]

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