Debt fund reaches £50m lending milestone

NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), has lent over £50m since its launch five years ago.

During that time the fund has provided loans to almost 200 businesses across Yorkshire and Humber and helped to attract an additional £31m in private sector co-investment.

It has supported a diverse range of businesses, from traditional manufacturers to rural businesses and tech firms. They include Sheffield’s Tinsley Bridge Group, a leading provider of suspension parts for trucks and industrial steel products; Rosehill Polymers of Sowerby Bridge which makes rubber products including security barriers, rail crossings and traffic islands; Wold Top Brewery in North Yorkshire; Huddersfield software company Adventoris; and Sheffield animation studio Red Star.

One of the first businesses to benefit was STEPS, a bespoke Sheffield rehabilitation centre founded by sisters Toria Chan and Jules Leahy. The fund provided investment during the very early stages of the business to help it develop and grow. STEPS is now one of the leading facilities of its kind in the region, employing around 140 staff.

NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance can provide loans from £100,000 to £750,000 and is accredited under the government’s Recovery Loans Scheme (RLS), which aims to support business in the post-pandemic period and improve the terms for SMEs looking to borrow, including lower rates of interest than would otherwise be the case.

Paul Taberner, Managing Director, Debt at Mercia, says: “NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance has played a key role in plugging the funding gap between the amount that banks and other funders are able to provide to a business and the amount that it requires for growth. Over the past five years the fund has supported broad swathes of the regional economy. It has helped businesses take on new projects, invest in equipment, develop new products, adapt to changing markets and navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

“Whereas many lenders will assess a company purely on its past trading record, we are prepared to consider what it could achieve in the future – which is particularly important as businesses recover from the pandemic. A key benefit is that instead of having to fill in an online form or deal with a call centre, businesses have their own investment manager who understands their business and will work with them to achieve their goals.”

Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank adds: “The work that the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Mercia have been doing over the last five years has been transformational for businesses in Yorkshire and Humber. Since it launched five years ago, businesses have been able to thrive and achieve their goals, using investment to create jobs, launch new products, and expand into new markets. I’m excited for the future opportunities that this fund will support, and build, creating a stronger North.”

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.