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A Worcestershire based food gifting company has secured a £200,000 loan to support growth through increased marketing and product development, creating eight new jobs. 

Ross & Ross Gifts Ltd, based in Evesham, secured the finance from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), provided by the FSE Group, Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme.  

Ross & Ross Gifts was created to address a gap in the market for quality and original gifts aimed at people using online sales to sell locally sourced food enhancing product, such as homemade Curing Kits, Food Hampers, British Roasts, British BBQ and Vegetarian. 

Ross & Ross Gifts will use the funding to expand its product range, which each range offering a variety of flavours and products including rubs, dusts, oils, jams, salts, sauces and chutney. The company aims to adapt products to new market trends as all products are designed and developed in-house by the founder, Ross Bearman, and then made by another local business. The Vegetarian range has been created in response to the recent increase in consumers choosing a more plant-based diet.  

Ross Bearman, Founder of Ross & Ross Gifts, said: “Due to our existing set-up and the speed with which we can innovate new ideas whilst retaining the quality and premium ingredients that our target customer expects, we are in a strong position to take advantage of new trends and tastes. We are delighted to secure this loan to put the impact of Covid-19 behind us, allowing us to drive our expansion strategy forward and add a new focus on personalisation and corporate gifting, both of which have huge potential to grow sales. 

Personalisation is a growing market trend in the gifting industry, with research showing that consumers are willing to pay a premium price for it. The company is looking to use this growth with a new range. The corporate gift market is worth £78million in the UK, and Ross & Ross will be concentrating on expanding its success in this market through sales of luxury hampers. 

Andy Moss, Head of Fund, Midlands at The FSE Group which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund, comments: “The business is currently operating a successful multi-channel sales strategy, split into Trade, Distributers and Online. The MEIF loan will support Ross & Ross Gifts to drive additional sales via these existing channels, through the engagement of further sales and marketing staff. It will also allow the company to keep ahead of its rivals by supporting in-house product development, ensuring innovation is always at the forefront of the brand.” 

Grant Peggie, Director at the British Business Bank, said: “MEIF funding aims to support the growth of Midlands-based businesses such as Ross & Ross Gifts. Alongside the creation of eight new jobs, the funding will help the company to expand into new markets and develop new products. We encourage other small businesses in the Midlands to consider MEIF financing options for their own growth plans.” 

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is great news to see another Worcestershire business being supported to grow through the MEIF programme. This support investment will allow Ross & Ross Gifts to expand their operation, creating new jobs in the county, helping the local economy to grow and recover from the challenging few years we’ve had. For any businesses in Worcestershire looking at what support options are out there to help them grow, make sure you speak with the Worcestershire Growth Hub team to find out more about all the options, including the MEIF programme.” 

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. 

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Newbury Mobility Ltd has received £75,000 from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Expansion Loan Scheme to support the opening of a new disability centre and to provide the capital to hold more stock.  

The deal was handled by The FSE Group, which manages the TVB Expansion Loan Scheme on behalf of TVB Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  

Newbury Mobility handles the sales, service, rental and repairs of stair lifts for domestic properties. The company will soon be opening a disability centre at its premises in Berkshire where customers will be able see demonstrations of stair lifts, floor lifts and step lifts, all geared towards making it possible for the domestic user to stay in their own home. It is also exploring partnerships with other disability providers, for example providers of wet rooms and modified kitchens, to display their products in the showroom.  

The company is also looking to expand into the commercial market this year by supporting the 43,000 local businesses who are legally required to provide equal access. For businesses that are open to the public, receive external visitors, and any business that has employees, renting a low-cost and sustainable stair lift is a simple way to comply with the Equality Act. Another source of expansion is through contracts with local councils to fit stair lifts to their properties.  

Avril Quince, Director of Newbury Mobility, commented: “We are very grateful for this TVB loan, which will support the development and growth of our disability centre showroom. The centre will allow customers, including medical professionals and commercial businesses, to see, try and educate themselves on the different options available to them. Our aim is always to seek equal access for disabled people and to support our customers’ preference to remain in their own homes, which is also the cheaper option compared to assisted living or care homes.” 

Phil Greenwood, Investment Manager for The FSE Group, added: “Newbury Mobility has a very strong management team with David’s 30 years of experience in the sales and servicing of stair lifts and Avril’s 20 years of business development. We are confident the launch into the commercial sector will allow the company to expand across their local area. The new showroom will be a huge benefit to the business, in terms of increased sales and awareness, and to the customers who use it and feel assured they have made the right choices for their circumstances.”  

TVB Expansion Loan Scheme is part of TVB Funding Escalator, an £11.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. The escalator, which also includes a Trade Finance Loan Scheme and a Growth Equity Fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities. 

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The FSE Group is pleased to announce the recruitment of Ryan Cartwright and Abbie Peat, who join the team in the Midlands which manages the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) Debt Finance Fund. Ryan joins as Investment Manager for the West Midlands and Abbie will take up the role of Investment Manager for the East Midlands. 

Ryan’s career in SME finance began with the RBS Group where he worked in Relationship Management roles within Corporate Banking for nine years. His next move was to a regional Growth Hub in Staffordshire before returning to commercial finance with a private sector invoice finance and factoring business where he was responsible for setting up an office and developing a new portfolio of clients from scratch. In 2018 he became the West Midlands Senior Manager for the British Business Bank which gave him a deeper experience of the diversity of finance options available to SMEs including equity and debt products.  

Abbie has almost 20 years’ experience in the banking sector with varying roles including Relationship Management, Training & Development, Business Risk and Assurance and Project work. Working for Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank, she helped deliver the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and most recently supported the bank’s phase out of LIBOR which is one of the largest, most complex regulatory driven change projects ever to impact the financial services industry and its customers. 

Ryan Cartwright, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, said, “I’m pleased to join the team at FSE and to continue the great work being carried out by the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF). Having previously worked with the MEIF while I was part of the British Business Bank, I’m excited to directly work with and support the SMEs who use the fund and who are growing and enriching the Midlands.”  

Abbie Peat, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, added “I’ve worked directly with business banking customers for years but I’m excited to be able to make this my main focus. The Midlands has a wonderful community of SMEs and is a region experiencing significant growth through investment. I’m delighted to be a part of this and to use my knowledge to guide and support local companies who are taking the next steps on their growth journey.”   

The MEIF Debt Finance Fund can be used for expansion related activities which will deliver substantial growth impact within the area. Through this fund, eligible SMEs can secure growth loans ranging from £100,000 - £1,500,000 which can be used for sales and marketing activity, hiring new employees/job creation, new product development, exporting abroad, purchasing new equipment or entering new markets. 

Andy Moss, Head of Fund at The FSE Group, commented: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Abbie and Ryan, two highly skilled investment professionals, who will complete our Midlands team. The FSE Group has supported 48 businesses across the Midlands and is looking to increase this number by continuing to work with growing SMEs in the region. Both Abbie and Ryan have a deep understanding of the challenges and demands faced by local businesses which makes them ideally placed to continue this work.” 

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. 

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A Newquay based social enterprise working to turn ocean waste into useable products has secured £250,000 of growth finance from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF). The funding will be used for marketing, product development, equipment and to create new jobs.

While working as a marine scientist in locations across the globe, Waterhaul Founder and CEO Harry Dennis witnessed ‘ghost gear’ – fishing equipment and nets that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded – on every shoreline. On realising the qualities that make the nets such a problem in the ocean – their durability, strength and abundance – are also highly desirable in a raw material, he set about turning this problem into a resource.

The result is a business that collects fishing nets by hand from Cornwall’s coastline for recycling into a range of beach conservation accessories and high-quality eyewear.

Harry said: “At Waterhaul we produce premium-quality sunglasses that come with a lifetime guarantee. We’re proud of this but what matters more is our purpose. We’ve made great progress collecting and repurposing nets over the last three years but to have a material impact on the volume of ghost gear in our oceans and on our shores, we need to grow and increase capacity. The CIOSIF loan is crucial to this growth. As a young business with insufficient track record for many lenders, we are grateful to be working with a projection-led finance provider who understands our mission and is willing to back our potential.”

Waterhaul’s expansion plans include a move to new premises where they can undertake more of the currently outsourced processes in-house, as well as creating their own glasses designs and expanding their product range. They are already supplying major retailers including Glasses Direct and Vision Express, and B2B channels will be a focus for further growth. And with nets in abundant supply, production of recycled plastic will exceed Waterhaul’s need for its own products so in the future they will look to supply this high-quality material to other brands wishing to create a more sustainable offering.

Tim Williams, Investment Manager at appointed CIOSIF Fund Manager, The FSE Group, commented: “Waterhaul is an impressive business that is already making great headway in a sector close to Cornwall’s heart. Their commercial acumen is grounded by a desire to bring about real change. A hands on business model keeps them connected to Waterhaul’s core purpose, and their expansion plans reflect the ambition to tackle a huge environmental issue head on. We are delighted to be supporting this ambitious business in an exciting phase of its development.”

Waterhaul was introduced to CIOSIF by Oxford Innovation’s Access to Finance Cornwall team in Redruth. John Whittaker, Business Finance Specialist at Access to Finance, added: “We worked closely with Harry to identify the funding requirement and then to help produce a robust and dynamic financial model that would strengthen the CIOSIF funding application. We are thrilled to have been able to support Waterhaul in securing the finance needed to grow and look forward to working with the CIOSIF team on future introductions.”

The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund provides debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million to help growing small businesses across the region. It has been established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Sarah Newbould, Senior Investment Manager from the British Business Bank, said: “The fund is starting to build a portfolio of environmentally focused Cornish businesses that are committed to sustainability, and Waterhaul is another excellent example of that. It also shows how the fund can support young businesses that may not have the trading track record to satisfy other lenders.”

LEP director John Acornley, and chair of the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Waterhaul is showing how Cornish businesses really are leading the way when it comes to the circular economy. They take one of the most common and potentially lethal forms of plastic pollution in our oceans and transform it into everyday products with a lifetime warranty. We look forward to seeing their next stage of growth.”

CIOSIF 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.

For more information about the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund including how to apply, please visit www.ciosif.co.uk  or follow the fund on Twitter at @CIOSIFBBB2

For further details about Waterhaul, please visit https://waterhaul.co or follow on Instagram @waterhaul_co

News

A Solihull-based business which has created a fully integrated digital workflow platform, has secured a £250,000 loan from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund provided by The FSE Group Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS).)

The funding will be used to recruit five additional staff and focus on further development of their product and services.

CareCube’s platform has been designed to track and manage patient information for cardiology and heart centres by simplifying the scheduling process. The digital touch screen interface is vital in saving staff time and it supports the NHS’s need to reduce waiting lists.

The platform is used in hospitals across the UK including the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital. The installation of the new system to the NHS database is executed gradually to back up existing patient information to the system, with procedures in place to test the system before its final switch.

Tim Coutts, Co-Founder and CEO of CareCube Solutions, said“We are providing a system designed by cardiologists, for cardiologists. Our digital platform ensures patients, nurses and consultants have real-time information to keep all parties informed of the status of a patient while they are on-site, providing an unrivalled patient experience. This funding will enable us to continue developing our technology and invest in marketing which will support our business.

Chris Bailey, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, said:  “Digital solutions for labour intensive tasks are a priority in the medtech sector. The market for this product both in the UK and overseas is in demand owing to the size of waiting lists. CareCube’s solution is impressive due to its ease of use and integration, supported by an experienced management team with relevant medical and medtech experts. The FSE Group is excited to see the business grow and support the NHS as it recovers from the strain of the pandemic.”

Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, said:  “The MEIF continues to support medtech businesses like CareCube that aim to support the NHS and wider sector with innovative new technology. We would encourage SMEs in the Midlands looking to level up with funding to create new jobs and expand to consider MEIF funding.”

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 Midlands region.