An engineering company which suffered a slowdown in trade due to the pandemic has received a £100,000 CBILS-backed loan from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, that is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
The funding will help ECF Special Alloys to boost its working capital and invest in new equipment. The Worksop-based company, whose order book had been affected by delays on major infrastructure projects, says business is now bouncing back. It expects a busy summer ahead as work on projects resumes and believes UK businesses will benefit from the rapid vaccine roll-out as the big operators look for secure sources of supplies.
ECF fabricates pressure vessels, heat exchanges, valves and other equipment for industries such as offshore, pharmaceutical, process and utilities. Founded in 1993 by the current CEO Peter Elliott, the company employs 15 staff and serves major clients including Siemens, BP, Veolia Water, Syngenta, Ineos and SPX.
Peter Elliot, CEO at ECF Special Alloys says: “We went into the first lockdown with a full order book and continued to work through. However, while we did see an upturn in business from the pharmaceutical sector, delays to other major projects meant that the flow of new work slowed down. The funding is helping to support us as we gear up and invest for the future. Orders are now starting to flow in once again and we believe the progress of the vaccination programme will make UK suppliers like us well placed to compete globally.
“Security of supply is critical for our clients – if a ship has to pull into dock or a plant shut down to be fitted out, they want to be sure the equipment will be there on time. If the workforce is vaccinated, they will see the UK as a more secure source of supplies than other countries.”
The funding is helping ECF to invest in welding technology, upgrade overhead cranes and its computer system.
Andy Tyas of Mercia said: “Peter has built up this business from start-up and it is now a well-respected specialist in its sector. COVID-19 did have an impact for a few months, but the business is now recovering strongly. The funding will help to further develop its products and services moving forward.”
John Sellers of Optimum Commercial Solutions provided fundraising advice to ECF. He said: “I’m pleased to have been part of the team which assisted ECF in these challenging times. Sourcing the right funding is a key consideration in any company’s growth and by working closely with Andy at Mercia, we were able to structure and deliver a package which met their needs.”
Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank said: “ECF are an example of a growing business that has faced disruption amidst the pandemic through no fault of their own, and has had to adapt thier offering to meet renewed market demands. This NPIF loan demonstrates how vital funding to Northern businesses across the region can make a real and measurable difference, securing jobs and protecting a business’ long-term future.
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.
CBILS provides facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. Delivered by the British Business Bank, through 90+ accredited lenders and partners, CBILS will support the continued provision of finance to UK smaller businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak.