26th July 2022
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund was set up to make a real and measurable difference to businesses across the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber and Tees Valley. It has since led to the creation of thousands of new jobs, fuelled growth plans, and helped to create a more prosperous regional economy.
As part of NPIF’s 5th anniversary, we spoke to eight businesses that have secured investment to learn more about their investment experience.
York-based The Potions Cauldron secured a £30,000 investment from NPIF – BEF & FFE Microfinance in April 2022 to open a second attraction in the heart of Blackpool and expand its team significantly. The company also received £70,000 directly from BEF.
We spoke to Ben Fry, Chief Enchantment Officer at The Potions Cauldron, to ask about the impact of investment from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund – here’s what he had to say:
Why did you seek out NPIF investment?
“Our first venue in York was a success, but we reached a point where we needed to access finance to expand our facilities further. We had ambitions for our business to reach further across the North, with our sights set on a mini golf venue in Blackpool.
“Given the seaside town attracts over 10 million visitors each year, this was a real commercial opportunity but we knew we needed investment to unlock this next stage of growth. We were taking a risk expanding given the impacts of Covid-19 and restrictions still being in place at the time, but NPIF and BEF’s new Hospitality Recovery Loan offered us the support we needed.”
Why was Microfinance the right finance option for your business?
“We first approached the NPIF team with a plan for expansion, but didn’t know which financing option was right for us. After talking through our business plans in depth, we were advised that microfinance was the best option to fill the funding gap for our growth and development project.
“We found it difficult to obtain the type of finance we needed from mainstream providers, but the strong communication we had with the NPIF team enabled us to talk through our journey and establish the correct financial support we needed. From there, the process of securing finance was simple, as it wasn’t just a case of filling in some questions online.”
What difference has NPIF funding made to your business?
“The funding has truly had a transformational impact. Without the financial support we wouldn’t have been able to secure the Blackpool opportunity, and our plans for expansion would have been delayed by 12 months at least. We had a solid business ambition to expand our offerings across the North and with the ongoing support offered by NPIF, we were able to fund our operational strategy to put this into action.”
What new opportunities has NPIF provided you?
“Thanks to NPIF support, we have expanded our team significantly. We have given opportunities to 10 new staff who have now joined our team in Blackpool at The Hole In Wand Wizard Golf, with plans to create five more jobs in the near future. Bringing our immersive entertainment facilities to more people and increasing job opportunities across the region is something that we were always driven by, especially following on from an extremely difficult two years. This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without NPIF’s ongoing guidance and willingness to help us and the broader regional economy.”
What would you say to other business owners considering NPIF funding?
“I’d recommend NPIF to any ambitious small business that is struggling to access finance elsewhere. If you think big and formulate a solid plan of what you want to achieve, NPIF’s network of advisors can guide you with the tools you need to grow and help make it happen!
“Working with NPIF and BEF was a straightforward process, and more than that we felt that Mark from BEF had a genuine interest in the business and seeing us succeeding.”
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.
Business Enterprise Fund is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 726237)
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
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