A Birmingham-based company specialising in large-scale digital advertising has secured a £250,000 loan from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), provided by The FSE Group, Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme.
The funds will be used to support the design and build of two new digital screens and create six new jobs.
Engage Outdoor Media provides advertising space on large scale digital screens in areas of high road traffic. Handling a number of owned and leased screens throughout the UK, the company finds sites, negotiates long-term leases and obtains planning permission before erecting the screens and selling the advertising space to a range of commercial and public sector clients.
The MEIF loan will fund the build of two new screens in Birmingham and Leeds, as well as job creation for new finance and sales staff required to support the increase in work volume.
Growth that stalled in the Out of Home (OOH) advertising industry during the pandemic has now picked up again, with the Advertising Association forecasting OOH growth of almost a third this year. The trade body Outsmart announced the highest ever quarterly OOH revenue growth in 2021, with the digital share of this revenue significantly higher than its pre-pandemic share.
Ian Bullingham, founder and MD of Engage, commented: “I started Engage Outdoor Media in late 2018 to create a more dynamic and flexible digital OOH offering and we quickly completed the installation of our first three roadside screens. The pandemic hit our market hard, however, we overcame the challenges and have now built 15 new digital advertising billboards across the Midlands and the North.
“Our FSE investment manager’s thoughtful, caring and thorough approach exceeded my expectations; we will continue to work with her for additional funding later this year.”
Kerry Haughton, Investment Manager for The FSE Group, appointed fund manager for MEIF Debt Finance Fund, added: “Engage Outdoor Media has developed a strong base with regular clients and referrals, and an established relationship with Birmingham’s premium advertising agency. They are increasing their ability to provide the sites required by the growing digital advertising market and through strategic use of owned and leased sites they are spreading risk and increasing revenue. This, together with a strong and dedicated MD, positions the company for future growth and we are excited to be working with them to realise this.”
Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager , at the British Business Bank, said: “It is fantastic to see the MEIF supporting SMEs in the region’s creative industries. Birmingham-based Engage Outdoor Media will use MEIF funding to expand the reach of its digital marketing services – also boosting the local economy with the creation of six new job roles. We encourage other businesses in the West Midlands to consider the MEIF funding options available.”
Anita Bhalla, Interim Chair at the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) said: During a challenging two years, businesses received targeted assistance and grants from GBSLEP and GBSLEP Growth Hub. Many business owners benefitted from this support as they could maintain their operations and workforce whilst also pivoting to the changing local economy. Now as we adjust to a full reopening, we are committed to helping our businesses grow. That’s why this latest MEIF funding for Engage Outdoor Media is so critical. It will allow them to scale up their operations and create new employment opportunities which supports our GBSLEP vision of driving inclusive economic growth across the region.”
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
The FSE Group, MEIF Debt Finance Fund provides loans between £100,000 and £1.5million to help growing SMEs across the region.