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Back to News Sean Hutchinson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank

19th October 2020

The Northern Powerhouse: Bouncing Back


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Sean Hutchinson, senior investment manager at the British Business Bank, says whilst it’s been a challenging year for all, it is encouraging to see businesses across the North demonstrating green shoots of recovery, as they look to pioneer new products, reach new markets and grow their teams. Despite it being a highly uncertain time, he believes this to be proof that business are, in fact, starting to plan for the future.

Investment through the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) has played a key part in this gradual bounce back, with the Fund being highly active throughout these past seven months. To put it into context, since the UK went into lockdown in March, NPIF has completed 148 deals worth a total of £30.7m, alongside an additional £33.2m of private sector co-investment.

As the NPIF Microfinance and Debt funds are CBILS accredited, a large proportion of these loans have been backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS), which provides funding for business that have experienced significant disruption as a result of the pandemic.

Bouncing back

Accordingly, we have seen a number of success stories within the NPIF portfolio in recent months, spanning across a number of regions and sectors.

In Cheshire, Congleton-based Interefurb Limited, which refurbishes the interiors of hotel, care and leisure properties, is a perfect example of steady recovery. Since receiving a £50,000 NPIF – BFS & MSIF Microfinance loan backed by CBILS towards the start of lockdown, facilitated by GC Business Finance, revenues at the business have soared. From June to August alone, revenues were equivalent to sales for the entirety of 2019, and the business is now looking to explore new avenues for growth.

Meanwhile, in Lancaster, OEP Building Services had a similar experience to many businesses in March and lost out on a month’s revenue. To reopen, the prefabricated bathroom supplier took out a £400,000 CBILS-backed loan from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance and has since got back on track, recruiting 30 new staff. Further, revenues recovered significantly, and are now projected to match that of 2019, with further growth is anticipated for 2021.

In the Tees Valley, Middlesbrough-based Wilton Engineering took out a £750,000 NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance loan backed by CBILS. In doing so, not only was the engineering firm able to safeguard 117 roles, but it has since created an additional twenty, bringing forward plans to diversify its services and enter new markets.

In Liverpool, which has recently hit a £30m milestone of NPIF investment, GTM Property Maintenance was in a difficult spot after its healthy forecast of work for 2020 was disrupted by the pandemic. Thanks to a £250,000 CBILS backed loan from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, the maintenance business has been able restart trading, bring back its full workforce from furlough, take back on work and is now projecting a strong turnover of £1.6m.

Supporting businesses

The pandemic has put many businesses an unprecedented position and it is important that firms feel supported. CBILS has proven a lifeline for many NPIF-backed businesses and our fund managers are still available to advise on the best course of action. I would encourage any firm in a similar position to reach out prior to the November 30th CBILS application deadline.

We are working tirelessly with our fund managers across the Northern Powerhouse to provide support and offer investment. It’s key that we continue to provide the tools for ambitious, growing firms during and beyond this pandemic.

Businesses may be seeking investment for growth capital in order to expand into new markets, grow the team to meet new demand or diversify their offerings in the future, and this is where the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund will continue to be vital for growing firms.

If your business is in need of funding, head to the NPIF website ( and make contact with one the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s appointed fund managers.

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.

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

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£25k – £100k

Microfinance page
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Debt Finance

£100k – £750k

Debt Finance page
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Equity Finance

£50k – £2m

Equity Finance page
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