Whiterock Finance has today announced that it has provided £100 Million in funding to 150 SMEs across Northern Ireland over the past 10 years.
Since it was established in 2012, Whiterock Finance has provided investment to businesses across three funds, the now fully deployed Growth Loan Fund I, the current Growth Loan Fund II and the Growth Finance Fund, all of which are part of Invest Northern Ireland’s Access to Finance suite of funds.
Whiterock’s first investment was made in September 2012 to ventilation systems manufacturer Brookvent, who received £425,000 from Growth Loan Fund I. Since then, Whiterock’s funds have made several further investments in the business, most recently a £400,000 loan from Growth Loan Fund II, which is being used to help the company continue to expand its offering across Europe. During this period, Brookvent has increased its turnover sixfold and now employs 147 people.
Pushing Whiterock’s total investment across the £100 million mark was strength and conditioning equipment manufacturer BLK BOX, who received £1.5m in funding from the Growth Loan Fund II.
The firm, whose existing client base includes sporting teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Irish Rugby, as well as corporates such as Google, Nike and LinkedIn, will use the investment to scale its operations to meet increased customer demand and new contract wins.
Ben Stocks, Managing Director of BLK BOX, added, “BLK BOX has grown exponentially over the past decade and gained an enviable client list supplying and fitting out gym solutions across the globe. In recent years, we saw huge growth during the pandemic when demand for home gym equipment soared and have since gone from strength to strength, expanding our team and manufacturing premises to meet demand.”
Welcoming the announcement, William McCulla, Invest Northern Ireland’s Director of Corporate Finance, said: “The funds within Invest NI’s Access to Finance portfolio continue to address the funding challenges of SMEs in Northern Ireland. Through the provision of over £100m of finance to over 150 SMEs, Whiterock Finance has become an established part of the local SME funding eco system and it is great to see first-hand Growth Loan Fund II having such an impact on a high growth company like BLK BOX.”
Paul Millar CEO at Whiterock Finance said, “Over the past 10 years, our team has worked to provide finance to over 150 ambitious and motivated companies from across Northern Ireland to fuel their growth. As we move into our second decade in business, we are still constantly seeking out businesses that are keen to scale and BLK BOX is a perfect example. Currently experiencing an ongoing period of growth, BLK BOX is making a name for itself worldwide as an experienced and quality manufacturer of gym solutions and we’re excited to support them during this next period as they continue to win large scale contracts and expand their business.”
Over the past 10 years, companies of all sizes and stages of development have availed of Whiterock managed funds, from a wide range of sectors, including Advanced Manufacturing, Fintech, IT Services, Leisure, Tourism and Creative Industries. Whiterock estimates that 3,000 jobs have been created as a result of the growth finance provided across the funds.
The loans have supported a variety of needs, including R&D support, staff recruitment, marketing, capital spend, working capital, stock and trade property purchase.
Finance for the £30m Growth Finance Fund – which can provide SMEs with loans up to £2m – is provided by the British Business Bank, Invest NI and private investors, the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).
Finance for the £30m Growth Loan Fund II – which provides loans of up to £1.5m to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – is provided by Invest NI, and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.