Educational resources supplier lands £18m ESG loan

Chris Mahady

Nottingham-based educational resources supplier Findel has secured what is believed to be the UK education supplies sector’s first sustainability-linked loan facility from lender Santander UK.

The Netherfield company will use the £18m facility to support its medium-term growth plans whilst driving its environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments.

The company’s origins as an educational resources supplier can be traced back to 1817. Today, Findel’s brands and websites offer more than 32,000 products to educators and parents based in the UK and overseas with the business exporting to 130 countries.

The company is backed by private equity firm Endless, which supported a management buy-out in April 2021.

To qualify as a sustainability-linked loan, Findel has made specific annual commitments regarding improving its carbon footprint and making its products sustainable, or sustainably improved, with a focus on removing single use plastics.

The company has also committed to supporting an increasing number of its employees to engage in charity or community activities and improving its supply chain ESG audits for suppliers operating in higher risk global markets.

Findel’s progress against these commitments will be independently monitored by a third-party sustainability-linked loan assurance provider.

Dependent upon Findel’s performance against these improving annual commitments, the interest rate on the Santander UK debt facility could go up or down over its six-year term.

Any savings in interest costs made from Findel hitting its ESG targets will then be donated to support relevant community programmes and charitable causes.

Findel chief executive, Chris Mahady, said: “In many respects, Findel has been an ESG-focused business since it was founded because of the dedication we have always had to education, care and helping children learn and develop.

“Being able to secure what both we and Santander UK believe to be the UK education supplies sector’s first sustainability-linked loan facility is something we are very proud of.

“It will ensure we further embed ESG at the heart of Findel, enable us to lead by example as a sustainable and responsible business in the markets we serve and invest in new products and services for the benefit of educators and parents worldwide.”

Chris Thomas, Santander’s director, structured finance, financial sponsors, said: “Findel is a leading player in the educational supplies market. We are delighted to provide funding to support this next important phase of its growth strategy which is the first Sustainable Linked Lending facility to be provided by Santander UK’s Financial Sponsors team.”

Wendy Whewell, Santander UK’s head ESG & climate change, added: “It has been a pleasure working with Findel on this transaction. In our discussions with the management team, it is clear that sustainability is built into its ethos. Its stretching and ambitious targets will build on the work it has already undertaken and its commitment to collaborate with all its stakeholders to ensure that they will all be on a just transition to net zero.”

In January, Findel announced it had rebranded and introduced a new brand positioning line of ‘Growing education for generations’ which reflects the company’s heritage and future evolution. Findel’s brands comprise Hope, GLS, Davies Sports and Philip Harris.

In addition to its distribution centre and offices in Netherfield, the company has its headquarters in Hyde, Greater Manchester, and employs around 300 people in total.

Findel was supported on the transaction by Richard Siddall and Louise O’Sullivan from PwC debt advisory and Phil Scott and Laura Swift from law firm Walker Morris. Financial due diligence was undertaken by Dan Rosinke and Nikolai Naidoo at Grant Thornton. Santander was advised by Matthew Christmas and Noori Goffar at law firm DLA Piper.

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