News

A Worcestershire-based advanced manufacturing and engineering firm has secured £250,000 to create new jobs, diversify its product line and grow its customer base. 

Handling Concepts received funding from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) provided by The FSE Group Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS). The MEIF funding will help to service contracts and invest in 5 high-quality jobs. 

Established in 1994, Handling Concepts provides specialist engineered solutions for materials and industrial process handling. The solutions range from standard production line products to custom designed installations that enable a variety of manufacturers to manage their production process safely and efficiently.  

The business has seen progressive growth and works primarily with UK blue-chip manufacturing businesses in different sectors. Handling Concepts’ success is credited to the exceptional customer care it provides leading to its strong reputation in the market for engineering excellence. 

Karie Burbeck, Chief Operating Officer of Handling Concepts, said: “Over 27 years we have expanded our specialist solutions to meet the requirements of our client base. The MEIF loan comes at a crucial point, enabling us to meet high customer demand as we recover from the effects of the pandemic. This is an opportunity for significant growth and the funds will allow us to invest in key jobs and better service our customers.  

Chris Bailey, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund, adds: “We were impressed by Handling Concepts’ team, strong reputation and high quality products, which has resulted in excellent levels of customer retention. Furthermore, the company has the opportunity to grow in other industries and market itself to new customers. We are delighted to be able to offer this funding and look forward to working with Karie and the team to ensure they reach their goals for growth.” 

Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “The MEIF recognises the growth potential of small businesses in the Midlands, providing support and growth opportunities to help ensure the whole region is able to grow. The funding for Handling Solutions will create local jobs and enable the company to expand its customer base in other industries.” 

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is fantastic to see yet another Worcestershire business being supported to grow through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund. At a difficult time for many, I am pleased to see this support providing Handling Concepts the opportunity to expand their team, bringing 5 high quality jobs to the county. As a result of this investment, the local economy as a whole will benefit and it will help us continue to create growth opportunities across Worcestershire. 

For any Worcestershire businesses looking to access support programmes and funding for your business, please contact the Worcestershire Growth Hub team as they can help you point you to the right support for your organisation.” 

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. 

News

A Bracknell based food production business specialising in Caribbean and Mauritian cuisine has secured funding from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Funding Escalator. 

Coco Labelle has received a new £168,000 trade finance loan, which follows a £100,000 expansion loan in 2021. With the initial funding used to fit out a commercial unit and obtain food safety accreditations SALSA & Approved Premises Accreditation, enabling the business to scale from a kitchen table catering venture to a full-production operation, this new loan will be used to support the company to deliver a contract to supply the 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

Set up in 2014 by trainee solicitor turned chef Elisabeth Brown, Coco Labelle provides African Caribbean food served from a vintage truck to street food markets, high-end festivals and private events including celebrity weddings. By 2020 Elisabeth had won a tender on the NHS Supply Chain for the supply of African & Caribbean meals to the NHS and has gained an impressive reputation, with social media endorsement from acclaimed chefs Michel Roux Jr and Nadia Hussain and Chair of NHS Food Review Philip Shelley. 

The contract to supply the Commonwealth Games is substantial, with Coco Labelle providing over 110,000 frozen meals across 35 different recipes.   

Elisabeth said: “With the initial expansion loan helping us to grow our operation capabilities, this latest investment has allowed us to take on a contract that we may have otherwise had to decline. Large contracts often require a level of up-front investment that small businesses like ours do not have the working capital to support. We are grateful to FSE for taking the time to really consider our proposal, see the full potential of our business and continue to back us as we expand. The support of FSE has been incredible. Thank you” 

Simon Blackbourn, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the TVB Funding Escalator on behalf of TVB Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), commented: “Elisabeth is a resourceful entrepreneur who has deftly balanced the demands of building a business from the family home. Coco Labelle has a demonstrable track record of growth and profitable trading and with its professional kitchen facilities now in place, is in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities this brings. We are delighted to continue to support Elisabeth as Coco Labelle delivers this contract and we look forward to working with the business as it grows further.” 

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

News

A Cambridgeshire business has secured a £500,000 investment from the East of England Regional Growth Loan Scheme, managed by The FSE Group, which will support an increase in production to meet rising demand for its eco-friendly products. 

Receiving thousands of tonnes of coffee grinds from some of the biggest domestic and global brands, including Costa Coffee and Greggs, bio-bean produces a range of sustainable bio-products and is the world's largest recycler of spent coffee grounds.  

Products include its flagship Coffee Logs, an environmentally friendly substitute for mass imported woods and carbon-heavy coals; Inficaf, a raw material for use in bioplastics, cosmetics, packaging, automotive friction (e.g. brake pads) and more; natural flavouring extracts for sustainable alternatives in the food and beverage industries; and coffee biomass pellets for use in industrial-scale biomass boilers. 

George May, bio-bean Managing Director, said: “As a seasonal product for use in wood burners and open fires, we see a huge surge in demand for Coffee Logs during the autumn and winter months. We are grateful to FSE for its forward-looking approach to funding; this Regional Growth Loan has allowed us to ramp up production in advance of orders being received, which means we can manufacture at full capacity to meet demand and help more retailers offer this sustainable product to their customers.”   

If not recycled, used coffee grinds are typically wastefully discarded either in landfill, where they emit the greenhouse gas methane, or in anaerobic digestion. Processing grinds into Coffee Logs saves 130% more emissions than anaerobic digestion. Having built the world's first waste coffee recycling factory, bio-bean has successfully industrialised the process of recycling waste coffee grounds for sustainable use.  

Allen Hall, Head of Funds (East) at The FSE Group, added: “bio-bean is already a successful operation that has established sales in a number of retail outlets including Tesco, B&Q and Waitrose. The management team has invested heavily in product development and production capability and now has an opportunity to scale up in line with market demand. There is a substantial domestic and global market for its range of sustainable products and we are delighted to be supporting this innovative, green-focused business to achieve its goals for growth.”  

The Regional Growth Loan Scheme (RGLS) is managed by The FSE Group on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England. Loans between £50,000 and £500,000 are available to established incorporated businesses based within the East of England that have a minimum annual turnover of £100,000. The funding can be used for a range of growth activities as well as to service short to medium-term trade and contract finance requirements. The scheme aims to stimulate job creation and economic prosperity and supports SMEs that have the potential to deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the East of England region. 

News

A Cornish advanced engineering company that specialises in supplying innovative solutions for subsea and harsh environment applications has secured a £1 million growth loan from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF). 

Feritech Global Ltd, based near Falmouth, designs, manufactures and sells a market leading range of marine geotechnical equipment, ancillaries and consumables to a global market. Their customers are geotechnical and geophysical companies which operate across the marine sector in a variety of offshore operations. 

The company was recently named Exporter of the Year in the 2022 Cornwall Business Awards. 

CIOSIF funding will be used to increase the stock of technical equipment held by Feritech which is available to customers for lease and hire. This will enable the company to meet demand which has increased significantly. 

This upturn in business has been boosted by the launch of a new, Feritech Innovation Centre in April this year. This new facility will offer a full range of services including product design, fabrication, machining, electronics, electrics, embedded software, hydraulics and 3D printing services. It will be one of the leading facilities of its type in the UK. 

Rob Ferris, Managing Director and co-founder of Feritech, commented: “Launching our new facility was incredibly exciting and a culmination of many years hard work by our team. We were delighted to welcome HRH The Duke of Kent, along with other notable dignitaries, for a tour of our contemporary and eco-friendly site. This new innovation centre will give us space to grow as a business, by expanding our range of services, enabling us to win important new contracts, and providing new job opportunities in our local area. Our thanks to Tim and all at The FSE Group for facilitating this latest funding which will help us build our stock to fill our new facility and help us support our customers.” 

Tim Williams, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, added: “Feritech has customers in over 40 countries who require challenging geo-technical surveys. The company has a strong management team who have proven technical expertise and commercial skills. Supporting a local business which is rapidly growing and innovative is exactly what the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund is designed to do. We look forward to working with Rob and his team and supporting them on their growth journey.” 

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). 

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank said: “With exports accounting for 95% of turnover, Feritech is a global business with ambitions to expand into new territories this year. I’m delighted the fund is supporting this growth as they bring their innovation to some of the world’s most challenging engineering sectors.” 

John Acornley, LEP non-executive director and chair of the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Feritech are a Cornish success story creating bespoke advanced engineering equipment for customers all over the world. With an eye on the future, they are already helping to meet the demands of new and fast-growing sectors like floating offshore wind, autonomous vehicles and space.” 

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  

Vacancies

Location: Camberley, Surrey with some travel to FSE regional offices. Hybrid - working from home with office reconnection day minimum 1 day per week (currently on a Tuesday).  

About the role

This is a newly created role where you will have primary responsibility for owning the processes for our SME loans and equity solutions including on-boarding, fulfilment and in-life management. You will own the change management processes relating to product and process improvements (including defining and using technology requirement changes) and ensure strong compliance is built and monitored.  The IT Support Engineer role will report into you to co-ordinate IT development with 3rd party application suppliers.

You will be a member of the senior management team (reporting into the CEO), and therefore have the opportunity to contribute to wider strategic issues and you will work with the CEO on the Target Operating Model for the business. The outputs of this role are significant for 3 of our 5 corporate values: innovation, collaboration and delivery & your objectives will be reflective of this.

Principal Accountabilities:

Process Ownership

  • Practically own the end-to-end processes (eg the operating procedures – which are already in place) for delivering our debt loan and equity products on behalf of our stakeholders.  This being the on-boarding of prospects to customers, and then also in-life management activities / customer service.
  • Work with the regional front-line teams together with head office control & support functions to ensure strong compliance to those processes – making them effective, and then more efficient.
  • Work on ‘Right First-Time’ principles and always considering the external customer journey and satisfaction.
  • Plan to achieve recognised accreditations (e.g. ISO9001) relating to regular adherence to our defined processes.

Change Management

  • Own a framework for ‘continuous improvement’ including gaining regular insight from feedback loops (customer and internal) to make improvements to the processes, and thus the operating procedures (including tactical and strategic changes).
  • Sponsor and practically own changes ensuring they are delivered and well communicated / people trained.
  • Ensure that any changes made are then embedded as part of the new ‘business as usual’ procedures.

IT delivery & development co-ordination

  • Co-ordinate IT delivery and application development within the organisation (you don’t need to be an IT expert, but understand how to define requirements for any operational changes).
  • Lead and coach the IT Support Engineer ensuring that they work effectively with our external IT suppliers.
  • Ensure business change requirements which require IT development are scoped out, sized and project managed by the IT Support Engineer who works with third party suppliers.

Knowledge, skills and experience

  • Strong passion to own & change processes, working at a practical level, with evidence of a bias towards execution and a proven track record of delivery.
  • Desire to lead change management, and explore the use of IT in that change of processes (e.g. ebusiness).
  • Ideally experienced of working within the financial services sector in some form of operations or product management related role.
  • Good communicator, thinking about the recipient of that communication.
  • High level of Microsoft 365 competency.
  • Capable to lead a small team, whether on a direct or matrix approach.  No prior leadership experience required as training can be provided but the individual must have a desire to lead including good overview & delegation skills.

What we offer:

• A competitive base salary commensurate with your experience (Range £60,000 - £70,000 per annum)

• 25 days annual leave (pro-rata if part-time) plus usual Bank holidays in England & Wales. You also get your birthday off and one day for a volunteering purpose.  We have also typically closed between Xmas and New Year.

• 5% contribution to employer pension scheme, subject to minimum 3% contribution from employee

• Option to join the private medical scheme (50% employer contribution to premium)

• Death in Service benefit equivalent to 4x salary.

About The FSE Group:

We manage Funds on behalf of stakeholders, such as the British Business Bank – to deploy to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to help them achieve their maximum potential – these being business loans as well as equity solutions.  We specialise in market gap funding, eg loans which Banks and other lenders will not provide – ie projection led lending to help a SME grow and employ more people.  We pride ourselves on the economic impact that the funding to those SMEs provides to the regions where we operate the Funds.  See www.thefsegroup.com

We are a SME ourselves, with approximately 60 staff.  At the FSE Group we work hard to create an environment where our people can make a difference – to themselves, their career, their teams, and to the success of our firm and clients. We support all our people to work on a hybrid basis, to manage their family and other responsibilities alongside their work commitments; we believe this is key to achieving an inspiring and fulfilling working environment.

Diversity and Inclusion at The FSE Group:

The FSE Group is committed to encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion amongst our teams. This is central to our values of Collaboration, Inclusivity, Innovation, Sustainability and Delivery.

The aim is for our workforce to be truly representative of all sections of society, and for each employee to feel respected and able to give their best.

Job Type: Full-time, permanent (but open to requests for part time of 4 days per week minimum).

Applicants must have unrestricted access to work in the UK.

To apply email your CV and Covering Letter to: HRandOperations@thefsegroup.com

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