Carlisle entrepreneurs aim to create global e-commerce empire

Stewart Reynolds and Kevin Jones founded their first business when they were still sitting together in class at Trinity School. More than 20 years on, the pair are still in business together – running a fast-growing global tech company with the ambition of challenging some of the biggest names in the market. Growing up in Carlisle, they sat together from the first day at Stanwix School, with their dads Bruce Reynolds and Kenny Jones also knowing each other through their work as truck drivers.

Although the pair attended different universities – Kevin going to Leeds and Stewart to the University of Central Lancashire – they kept in contact socially and via their careers in web design and sales respectively. Now the pair are working together to drive forward Shopblocks, an e-commerce and website building platform launched by Kevin in 2015. “Kev and I went through school together and we’ve stayed really good friends.

Working on projects together is what we’ve always done, so it’s great to be able to work together growing a global business,” said Stewart, who is Shopblocks’ sales and marketing director. Prior to founding Shopblocks, chief executive Kevin was digital director for Manchester digital marketing agency Tecmark UK. Stewart says Shopblocks aims to give companies the ability to design easy-to-use websites, which are more customisable than other platforms but without the expense of having to pay web developer fees.

“We can offer the flexibility of the designer-led approach, but the speed and cost of a template site,” he said. The business already has 2,000 customers across the world, including in Dubai, Australia and New Zealand. The company, which employs 22 people, has its head office in Stockport, with a satellite office in New Zealand.

It plans to open another office in Los Angeles later this year. In November, the company received a GBP500,000 investment from Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s GM Investment Fund, its existing investor Dow Schofield Watts Angels and members of the management team. It plans to use this to grow monthly revenues four-fold in the coming months, as well as taking its total number of staff to 40 this year.

The pair keep in touch with their Cumbrian roots by returning to see friends and family and working with companies in the area.

This includes recently creating a new online store for gift shop Alternative, based in Keswick.

“We have ambitions to grow globally, but we love to work with Cumbrian businesses,” said Stewart.