Small Loan Fund investment helping Steelcraft shape growth plans both on and offline

Uploaded by in Recent Investments, Small Loan Fund on March 20, 2019

A County Durham engineering firm which specialises in fashioning ornate and unusual steelwork is aiming to take its turnover past the £2m mark with the help of a new investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Steelcraft designs, manufactures and installs a comprehensive range of architectural metalwork, including balconies, balustrades, stainless and secondary steelwork, street furniture and industrial fabrications.

The Chester-le-Street-based firm is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year by embarking on an on- and offline business development drive which will help it win new clients both at home and overseas.

Steelcraft secured the £50,000 Small Loan Fund investment through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers as part of funding its expansion plans, which include increasing its turnover from £1.8m to over £2m by 2020.

It has also launched a full service e-commerce website for its Forjj balcony brand after participating in the Digital Drive County Durham programme, and is aiming to especially increase its presence within London and the South East.

Having initially focused on manufacturing and installing bespoke security metalwork for clients across the North East, Steelcraft gradually widened its product portfolio and client base over the years and now employs a 24-strong team at its headquarters on the Drum Industrial Estate.

Well-known clients include Bellway Homes, Taylor Wimpey, Sir Robert McAlpine, The Esh Group, Galliford Try and Engie.

Matthew Rodgers, managing director at Steelcraft, says: “While we can fulfil most aspects of steelwork design and fabrication, we have an especially strong reputation in catering for uncommon shapes and unusual designs, and we’re now looking to build on this with new clients and in new markets.

“The Digital Drive County Durham programme gave us a lot of insights into how we use digital technologies to support our expansion plans which we’re now building on with our enhanced online presence.

“We’re confident of making significant commercial progress through the year to come and beyond, and hope to see both our turnover and our team growing this year.

“The Small Loan Fund provided the right type of accessible option for us, and the practical advice we got while working through the investment process with the NEL team was highly valuable.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Steelcraft has an enviable track record in a highly specialised niche market and is now beginning to execute growth plans that will see it achieve even more.”

The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.

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