Growth Fund - Loans & Equity Case Study

Left to right: Paul Gower, Finance Yorkshire, Dr Peter Skipworth, ECUS Chairman, Erica Kemp, Commercial Director, Nick Birkinshaw, ECUS Managing Director, Paul Pattison, Financial Director.

The Company

Sheffield-based environmental consultancy ECUS is looking to expand staff numbers and its national capabilities, following an investment from Finance Yorkshire.

Established in 1986, ECUS offers a range of services assisting clients through the planning process including ecology, landscape, geosciences and environmental management services. ECUS currently employs more than 20 staff and has a turnover of £1.5m.

The Challenge

Following the appointment of local entrepreneur Dr Peter Skipworth as Chairman in 2010, the management team was revamped with new appointments to the Board including Erica Kemp as Business Development Director, Paul Pattison as Financial Director and Nick Birkinshaw promoted to Managing Director.

Dr Skipworth said: “ECUS responded to the downturn in construction through diversifying into growth markets such as wind energy, growing our business within the public sector and developing our Environmental Impact Assessment services.

“The Board believes that now is the time to look to the future and invest to significantly grow the business.

The Solution

After diversifying into different markets and the board reshuffle, ECUS is looking to broaden its national capabilities with the backing of an Equity Linked investment from Finance Yorkshire.

Managing Director Nick Birkinshaw said: “Although ECUS already operates at a national level from Sheffield – including work with the Environment Agency and National Heritage - Finance Yorkshire’s investment will enable us to open up other offices over the next five years.

“We also want to increase numbers of our local workforce and are aiming to double them. This in turn will ensure we can offer a high calibre and broad range of services across the country.

The Investment Rationale

Paul Gower, Finance Yorkshire Investment Director, said: “I previously worked for Finance Yorkshire’s predecessor and considered funding ECUS back then.

“Having now re-engaged with the business, I was particularly impressed with the commerciality, ambition and commitment – all of the management team have invested in this funding round.

“They are looking to the future, not the immediate present, and investing so the company is better positioned to benefit from a return of growth.

Paul added: “In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced a huge increase in the Annual Investment Allowance for capital expenditure from £25,000 to £¼ million - given this, I am hoping to see other companies looking to emulate ECUS’ decision to invest to grow.”

Future Expectations

Dr Skipworth said: “In five years time, we have a projected turnover of £5m. Once we take on additional staff and open more offices, we can develop more disciplines, grow the margins – and therefore grow the business considerably.”

Note: this case study is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire

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