Investment pays off as environmental firm doubles turnover & staff numbers

Nick Birkinshaw, Managing Director, Ecus

An environmental consultancy has more than doubled its turnover and staff numbers, and expanded office sites across the UK following an investment deal.

Sheffield-based Ecus Ltd received the Equity Linked Investment from Finance Yorkshire in 2012 with a view to broaden its national capabilities, expand its client base and grow the workforce.

Today Ecus, which started out as a spin-off company from the University of Sheffield with 20 members of staff, employs a workforce of 50 and has more than doubled turnover during the investment period.

The growth has enabled the firm - which assists clients through the planning process including ecology, landscape, geosciences and environmental management services - to pay back the Finance Yorkshire investment, with a buyout funded by director investment and NatWest bank.

Ecus Managing Director Nick Birkinshaw said: “The investment from Finance Yorkshire has enabled significant year-on-year growth in the business with turnover more than doubling from £1.3m in 2012 to £2.8m in 2014, putting us on target to exceed our five year business plan of more than £5m.

“Although Ecus already operated at a national level from our Sheffield headquarters, we wanted the investment to help enable us to open five offices within five years. We have done that in just under three, with new sites in Cheltenham, Stirling and Basingstoke, and satellite offices in Manchester and Inverness. This UK-wide network has helped us shift the business up a gear and attract large nationwide framework contracts with household names like Network Rail and the Environment Agency, as well as a number of local councils.

“When the investment began I said doubling staff numbers and creating additional offices would help us to develop more disciplines, grow the margins and ensure we offer a high calibre and broad range of services across the country - and that has proved to be the case.

“Looking ahead is all about structuring teams to continue to deliver efficiently for our clients, while activity on the order book and in the pipeline fills us with much anticipation for both the year ahead, and beyond. We are also currently actively recruiting across all of our offices.”

Paul Gower, Investment Director, Finance Yorkshire, said: “Ecus is a strong example of Finance Yorkshire investment making a significant difference in the growth prospects of a company. Our support has helped put Ecus in the strong position it finds itself today with the forecast of further year-on-year growth for the company.”

Richard Carl Senior Relationship Manager at NatWest, said: “We are delighted to support Ecus as it moves forward with its business growth aspiration. We have been working with directors since Ecus’ inception in 2001 and look forward to working with them in the future.”

Andrew Francey, corporate finance partner at Watson Burton law firm, said: “The corporate team at Watson Burton have been involved in the full life-cycle of this investment, advising Ecus on the original transaction with Finance Yorkshire in 2012 and subsequently seeing it through to its exit at the end of January.

“We have worked with Ecus for a number of years, and it is fantastic to see the company achieve its goals ahead of schedule, proving the value of investments from funds such as Finance Yorkshire to enable growth for regional SMEs.”

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet funding requirements for growth and development.

Note: this news article is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire