Now is the right time for Yorkshire businesses to grow

THE chief executive of Finance Yorkshire has said now is the right time for the region’s aspirational businesses to be putting growth plans in place. 

Finance Yorkshire has been investing in SMEs since August 2010. So far, it has ploughed more than £47m into local businesses with a growth plan and made more than 400 investments.

Chief executive, Alex McWhirter, said: “We work with very impressive companies and ones that are growing. That’s an indication we have got some really good companies in the region and fantastic opportunities that in the future, can really go for it.

“This is a great time to grow your business. We have got some more stability in the market place.

“We should all now be planning for the future.

“Businesses will always have the option to do nothing or take a risk. But you can’t sit back and do nothing forever. Other businesses will enter your market.”

Mr McWhirter said he believes the investment company has scope to work with a “lot more” firms and bridge the funding gap for many more companies.

“There are some really exciting deals out there that we are doing but I think there are a lot more deals we can do,” he said.

“Businesses are constantly saying there is no money available to help them, but we are here. Pick up the phone and talk to us – tell us what your plans are.

“We work with banks too and we know that they are lending, just not in the same way they had been some years ago and people have to understand that.”

According to Mr McWhirter, a lot of companies are in a position where they have seen the recession take place, so are cautious about trying to grow.  

He said: “It is a big step to take and we do understand the cautious attitude. We have to be cautious as well and I think sometimes, it is a case that businesses just don’t really understand what funding involves, so we can help them to understand.”

Barnsley-based Finance Yorkshire helps businesses which have only a few employees to those with up to 250 members of staff.

The company said that the manufacturing and advanced engineering sectors in Yorkshire appear to be doing very well at the moment, and with a chunk of interest in the digital and technology sector, too, this is a “pretty strong” area.

“We are still an area in the UK which maintains a strong manufacturing base, despite the recession,” said Mr McWhirter.

“Now, we need to generate more awareness in Hull and the Humber, as well as North Yorkshire.

“We want more businesses to take advantage of what we can offer.

“We’ve got a lot of companies in this region that we want to help and we believe we can help them. Even if your plans are six to 12 months off, speak to us.

“Banks won’t change overnight but I think Finance Yorkshire has a long sustainable future ahead of it providing that important financing gap.”

Finance Yorkshire has invested just over £18m in business loans, £20m in equity linked finance and £8.6m in seedcorn finance.

Last week, Finance Yorkshire announced its debut exit in the S3 ID deal – the first Equity Linked Fund’s realisation.

Mr McWhirter said it is now looking at how it can make its equity fund more flexible, as well as ways to build more funding to invest into businesses in 2015. It current pot of cash can only be invested until December 2014.

Mr McWhirter said: “We have now got to think about how we provide these funds. We want to build the sustainability in the businesses. We want to see this money invested.

“Every business needs working capital. One thing that keeps businesses going is being able to get enough cash.”

Finance Yorkshire is already working alongside RGF and is looking at a number of deals with the Leeds City Region to help provide more opportunities for Yorkshire businesses.