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Finance Yorkshire hits £80m funding milestone – and looks to 2015

An investment in a successful Humber firm has taken Finance Yorkshire to a new milestone of £80 million invested in businesses – and it is on track to fully invest its £90m fund.

The regional funding body has now made 641 investments in businesses across Yorkshire and Humber, creating and safeguarding 7,877 jobs and increasing collective turnover by £215 million.

A strong pipeline of both new and follow-on investment opportunities for the final quarter of 2014 will ensure that the Fund is fully invested by the end of the year.

Its £500,000 Seedcorn investment in Claughton Office Equipment has given the Melton based firm the impetus it needs to double in size within the next three years.

The business is typical of the firms Finance Yorkshire invests in – ambitious, innovative and with a strong and experienced senior management team in place.

Managing director Gerard Toplass, who led a management buyout of Claughton Office Equipment in 2008, said: “In the last six years we have evolved from a low-volume furniture manufacturer to a national business specialising in modern environments for the education sector.

“This investment will unlock the potential for us to become one of the top three in our field in the UK, allowing us to employ more sales people and increase our geography.

“Finance Yorkshire is more than an investor, it is a trusted partner in our growth, and we would urge other businesses in the region, and particularly in the Humber, to make their ambitions a reality by getting in touch with Finance Yorkshire.”

Claughton Office Equipment designs, manufactures and fits furniture solutions for schools, colleges, universities, and public and commercial offices.

It is committed to revolutionising teaching and learning environments, and is at the heart of a growing sector – there are in the region of 30,000 schools in the UK and Government spend on modernising them is increasing year on year.

The business now employs almost 40 people and has invested heavily in a purpose-built factory alongside a dedicated product design and space planning department.

Finance Yorkshire chief executive Alex McWhirter said: “Businesses such as Claughton Office Equipment are the lifeblood of our regional economy, and we are passionate about continuing to invest in them.

“We are working on a significant number of new and follow on investment opportunities – the current fund will be fully invested by the end of this year.

“In a climate of economic uncertainty it is vital that Finance Yorkshire continues to support SMEs across the region which otherwise may find it difficult to access crucial funding via the more traditional routes. 

“Consequently, we are working with our stakeholder organisations to ensure that there is continuity to business investment in Yorkshire and the Humber during 2015 and in the future.”

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 their funding requirements for growth and development.

The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £30million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, £15million from UK Government and £45million match funding from the European Investment Bank.

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Gerard Toplass of Claughton Office Equipment and Alex McWhirter of Finance Yorkshire

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