Weed control company on track for European growth

Neil Bangham of Weedfree on Track and Ian Atkinson of Enterprise Ventures

A Yorkshire company which specialises in weed control on railway networks is planning a £2m investment to grow its operation in Europe, with support from Enterprise Ventures SME Loans and Finance Yorkshire.

Weedfree On Track, which is based in Huddersfield, provides weed control and de-vegetation services to European state railways. The company operates its own advanced weed control train which uses environmentally efficient technology to spray the railway tracks.

The company has commissioned the development of a second train to support its operations in Europe and Scandinavia, which include long-term contracts in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It also aims to secure contracts in other European countries as well as moving into the North American market.

Weedfree On Track, which benefits from more than 40 years’ experience in this sector, currently employs five staff and is led by CEO Neil Bangham.

To secure the purchase of the new train, Enterprise Ventures SME Loans provided a £300,000 debt funding package while Finance Yorkshire invested £200,000 from its Business Loans fund.

Alex McWhirter, Chief Executive of Finance Yorkshire, said: “Weedfree On Track has successfully demonstrated the value of its weed control technology to the rail sector. We are pleased to support the business in its growth ambitions across Europe and into North America.”

The investment was made from Finance Yorkshire’s Extension Fund which is backed by the Leeds City Region and Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnerships. Following the launch of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Finance Yorkshire is not currently accepting new applications.

Ian Atkinson, Investment Manager with Enterprise Ventures, part of Mercia Technologies PLC, which is managing the Northern Powerhouse Debt Fund in the region, said: “Weeds left untreated can create a fire and safety hazard, damage buildings and plant, obscure sight lines and create security problems at site boundaries. Weedfree on Track can resolve the problem by clearing sites swiftly and safely and its increasing overseas client base is recognition of its expertise. This funding will help the company to flourish and grow in Europe and beyond.”

The Enterprise Ventures SME Loans Fund was launched in June 2015 and provides loan capital to established and growing SMEs nationally, but with a particular focus on the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside. At launch, the fund received £40million of investment from Greater Manchester Pension Fund and Santander UK plc.

Since its inception in 2010, Finance Yorkshire has invested in more than 470 companies, enabling those businesses to increase their turnover by a total of £470 million and attract a further £290 million from private sector sources. Finance Yorkshire investment has helped those SMEs to create and safeguard more than 14,000 jobs in the region.

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