Vimeo logo LinkedIn logo


npif stripes
Back to News The Polar Specialist team

4th May 2023

Investment drives growth for pioneering specialist paint firm


Northern Powerhouse Investment FundNPIF FW Capital Debt FinanceCheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership

Cheshire-based Polar Specialist Coatings is using investment from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, which is managed by FW Capital and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, to finance growth and new product development. The six-figure funding will help launch a new eco-friendly bitumen paint product.

Polar Specialist Coatings has a rich heritage in the British paint industry. The company was launched in 2018 by the fifth generation of the Johnstone paints family. Now, brothers Tom and John Johnstone, are drawing on 130 years of paint manufacturing experience to deliver durable and high performance solutions that revive, protect and maintain homes.

The business operates from Winsford and first started selling its products on Amazon. It recently announced partnerships with Selco Builders Warehouse to distribute its product range and has some other retail partnerships soon to be announced. Polar Specialist Coatings current range includes specialist paints and coatings, spray paints and sealers and cleaners for use by contractors and consumers for a wide range of applications.

Tom Johnstone, Managing Director at Polar Specialist Coatings explains: “We’ve manufactured an innovative low solvent and odour free bitumen paint that is compatible with most surfaces, is waterproof and rapid drying. It has a lower toxic risk than other products on the market because it has less than 2% white spirit content versus 25% in the market. This is a game changer for the industry because we’ve created an eco-friendly alternative which continues to deliver high performance and durability.

“Our vision back in 2019 was to better educate and give confidence to those undertaking paint jobs and supply contractor quality paints and coatings. Today we’re proud to achieve this and develop innovative new products. FW Capital has offered great support and Laura Rees has always had our best interests at heart. The investment is making a big difference to our product development and future growth plans.”

Laura Rees Senior Investment Executive at FW Capital led the investment and was introduced to Tom Johnstone by Stephen Dinsmore at Armstrong Watson.

Laura Rees, Senior Investment Executive at FW Capital, said: “Polar Specialist Coatings is a young and dynamic business run by an ambitious entrepreneur. Tom, alongside his brother John, is bringing to market an exciting new product which is eco-friendly and aligns with FW Capital’s purpose and values. Drawing on their extensive heritage from Johnstone Paints, Tom and John have established their own position in the industry as innovators bringing quality, high performing products that appeal to a broad range of commercial and consumer use.”

Stephen Dinsmore, Armstrong Watson added: “Polar Specialist Coatings are an innovative and fast-growing business, with real expertise within their field and passion for their product. As with most businesses in a growth phase, investment was required to support management’s plans. Laura from FW Capital was able to quickly understand the business and put in place a market leading facility which will support Tom’s ambitious growth plans.”

Keira Shepperson, Director at the British Business Bank said: “We’re thrilled to see the positive impact that investment can have on innovative and ambitious companies like Polar Specialist Coatings. The funding provided by the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund will not only support the company’s growth and development, but also enable the launch of new and innovative products. We look forward to seeing them continue to thrive and expand their range of specialist paints and coatings.”

NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance can provide loans in the NPIF region with a focus on Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and the Tees Valley.

The Northern Powerhouse 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.

FW Capital Limited is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a small authorised UK Alternative Investment Fund Manager under firm reference number 506719.

Editors Notes


Find Out More

If you would like to meet with one of our appointed Fund Managers to talk in more detail please go to 'Funds Available' to find the Fund Managers operating in your area

Signpost microfinance icon


£25k – £100k

Microfinance page
Learn More
Debt finance icon of a road map

Debt Finance

£100k – £750k

Debt Finance page
Learn More
equity finance icon

Equity Finance

£50k – £2m

Equity Finance page
Learn More

For the latest news and views join our mailing list

Join our mailing list

Just add your details below to receive the latest Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund news and information