WMCA makes investment towards £5.5m development of former Birmingham factory site

A West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) investment fund is backing the £5.5 million rebirth of a landmark former Birmingham factory site.

The Combined Investment Fund (CIF) has provided £2.9m of loan funding to Barberry Developments to assist with the speculative development of the 46,000 sq ft industrial unit on the old Tuckers Fastenings site at Walsall Road, Perry Barr.

Barberry has purchased the site, with construction expected to complete later this year and resulting in the creation of around 75 new jobs.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council and WMCA portfolio holder for finance and investments, said: “I am delighted the CIF is able to play a part in bringing this site back into industrial use.

“Projects such as this are why the CIF was established, to help create the right conditions for industry and the jobs that are key to ensuring a prosperous future for the West Midlands.”

Tucker Fasteners had been at the Walsall Road site since 1903 producing rivets, fasteners and other metal products, as well as building fighter planes during World War II. It closed in 2013.

Barberry director Henry Bellfield said the 2.5 acre brownfield site occupied a prominent location on the A34 and was within minutes of Birmingham city centre and the M6 motorway.

“This development is well positioned to serve the local population and we expect it to be of interest from occupiers in the e-commerce, urban logistics fulfilment, retail, wholesale, and the trade and manufacturing sectors,” he said.

Jon Robinson, development director of Barberry added: “This scheme will provide much needed stock to the mid-sized industrial/warehouse sector, providing occupiers and businesses with the quality accommodation needed to expand, create jobs or relocate their businesses within the West Midlands.”

The CIF is a £70 million commercial development war-chest set up by the WMCA earlier this year to stimulate jobs, opportunity and growth.

It is aimed at unlocking a further £1 billion in private sector investment over the next 10 years.

It is managed by Finance Birmingham and provides short-term loans to private sector developers to enable them to get schemes off the ground.

Nick Oakley, senior investment director at Finance Birmingham, said: “We are delighted to be able to assist a well-established local developer with the speculative redevelopment of this key employment site in Birmingham.

“It is an excellent location and will encourage further inward investment into the city.”

PICTURE CAPTION: Cllr Izzi Seccombe, front, with Jon Robinson, rear left, of Barberry, Henry Bellfield, Barberry director, and Nick Oakley of Finance Birmingham.

First published by the WMCA – article here

Finance Birmingham arranges £7m funding on speculative industrial development at Kingswood, Cannock

West Midlands Combined Authority makes first commercial development funding award

A £21.6 million development creating an estimated 425 jobs is the first project to receive backing from a new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) investment fund.

Two industrial units covering 14 acres and providing a total of 283,000 sq. ft. of accommodation will be built at Kingswood Lakeside, near Cannock, with £7 million from the Combined Investment Fund (CIF).

Midlands-based developer Opus Land has been awarded the money to purchase and develop the site at the former Kingswood open-cast colliery, backed with funding by Bridges Ventures.

Opus has also been awarded grant funding from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) for land remediation work to prepare it for development.

Kingswood Lakeside comes under Cannock Chase District Council, a non-constituent member of the WMCA.

WMCA chair Cllr Bob Sleigh said: “I am delighted the CIF has made its first award.

“This is the Combined Authority financially supporting a local developer with a strong track record to bring a non-productive site back into economic use.

“This will create jobs and stimulate further investment and prosperity in this region, which is at the heart of what the WMCA was set up to do.”

Cllr Gordon Alcott, deputy leader and economic development and planning portfolio leader for Cannock Chase District Council, said: “I am delighted that the WMCA and GBSLEP have decided to support this excellent scheme put forward by Opus Land with their funding partner, Bridges Ventures.

“The scheme will provide significant job opportunities and investment into Cannock Chase district and I applaud all those involved in bringing it forward.”

Victoria Smith, joint managing director of Henley-in-Arden based Opus, said: “This is Opus’ fourth development at Kingswood Lakeside showing the draw the area has for commercial occupiers.

“The development of this site will provide Grade A industrial accommodation to help plug the acute shortage of industrial and storage land accommodation in the Midlands.”

Ms Smith said Opus was delighted to be working with Bridges, a specialist fund manager that invests in property opportunities with the potential to create positive social and environmental impact alongside attractive returns.

Kingswood Lakeside was previously an open-cast mine which opened in 1939 and closed in 1959. It has seen major re-development since 2002.

Opus’ strong track record of overcoming challenging ground and contamination issues at the site was key to it securing the project.

It is building a new call centre unit there for First Choice, and has previously built a regional distribution hub for courier firm APC, and the offices of waste management company Veolia HQ on adjoining plots.

The CIF is a £70 million commercial development war-chest set up by the WMCA earlier this year to stimulate jobs, opportunity and growth.

It is aimed at unlocking a further £1 billion in private sector investment over the next 10 years.

It is managed by Finance Birmingham and provides short-term loans to private sector developers to enable them to get schemes off the ground.

Nick Oakley, senior investment director at Finance Birmingham said: “We are delighted to be supporting this speculative industrial development which is in an excellent location and will make a significant economic impact to the region.”

Chase Commercial breaks ground for SMEs at Ratio:Park Kidderminster

  • Developers kick start work on 30,000 sq ft light industrial site
  • Range of units set to provide flexible space for small businesses
  • Ratio:Park supports plans to improve employment, regeneration and business activity in the area

Work has begun to deliver 30,000 sq ft of industrial workshops, warehouses and offices for small businesses in Kidderminster.

Ratio:Park, part of Finepoint in the South Kidderminster Enterprise Park, will offer 22 units between 960 sq ft and 4,500 sq ft and business owners have the option to purchase or let the plots. Warwickshire-based developer Chase Commercial Ltd has appointed Colonnade Construction Ltd to deliver the first phase of 11 units, set to be complete by spring 2017.

The Enterprise Park is a key employment and regeneration area for Wyre Forest District Council (WFDC). Following the introduction of a Local Development Order to simplify planning and improve business activity, it has seen the delivery of a new education facility ContinU Plus Academy; a new warehouse and manufacturing hub for Oakleaf Commercial Services – part of the Community Housing Group – and new purpose-built offices for WFDC.

Those based at the park will also benefit from its connectivity through the close by M5/M42 and the recent opening of the congestion-relieving Hoobrook Link Road.

Julian Meredith, Director of Chase Commercial, said:

“We have a track record for delivering high quality, flexible unit sizes and tenure for SMEs that need a quality location. This collaboration between Chase and Colonnade follows the successful delivery of a similar development in Evesham. Ratio:Park will further strengthen this relationship and will see us provide the kind of scheme that Kidderminster has been crying out for.”

Finance Birmingham has arranged development finance to support the project through the Growing Places Fund, managed on behalf of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).

Nick Oakley, Senior Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, said:

“Ratio:Park is a prime example of a site that will support the work of the local authority to deliver on employment and regeneration, as well as one that will encourage the growth of enterprise in the Kidderminster area. Finance Birmingham is delighted to be supporting Chase Commercial in the speculative development of this light industrial scheme. The location is excellent and these units will provide, flexible, quality new build accommodation for local SMEs.”

Chase Commercial, in conjunction with investment group Atacama Europe, bought the land at Ratio:Park in 2015 through commercial property firm Halls Commercial.

Halls is now leading on securing tenants for the series of industrial units.

Rob Champion, Partner at Halls Commercial, said:

“We are experiencing strong initial interest for Ratio:Park and are hopeful that the first few plots will be reserved soon. This development provides the market with an offer which hasn’t been seen for a long time. The region is chronically short of small business units, especially those which are available to buy, and I expect us to sell rather than let the vast majority of the units on this park.”

Birmingham number plate manufacturer secures £10m investment

  • Funding package for the world’s third largest number plate manufacturer
  • Growth capital supporting the continued expansion of the group following its recent acquisition of France’s top registration plate manufacturer
  • Collaboration of investments from Finance Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, NatWest Corporate and Commercial Finance and RBS Invoice Finance


A Birmingham-based manufacturer of vehicle registration plates has received almost £10million of investment from Finance Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, NatWest Corporate and Commercial Finance and RBS Invoice Finance.

Hills Numberplates will use the funding to support its continued growth following the company’s recent acquisition of Faab Fabricauto, France’s leading number plate manufacturer. The acquisition is enabling the company to develop further geographical markets and maximise production efficiency. Hills Group is the world’s third largest number plate manufacturer and has more than 80 years’ experience providing products to national and international clients including Honda, Fiat, Ford and Toyota. The group currently employs more than 200 staff and produces more than nineteen million plates each year.

Richard Taffinder, Managing Director of Hills Numberplates, said:

“We are a business built on excellent customer service and a strong vision and this funding will help us to accelerate our growth. By completing our acquisition of Faab Fabricauto and having the funds to invest in our products, we can now expand our offering for our customers and create a greater international footprint.”

Finance Birmingham currently has £600m of funds under management and invested in Hills via the £56m Mezzanine Fund – which is open to SMEs across the West Midlands and is supported by the Regional Growth Fund and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership – as well as Birmingham City Council’s Loan Fund.

Stephen Murray, Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, said:

“Hills Numberplates is firmly positioned as a major world number plate manufacturer. We have been impressed with the management team and their growth strategy and the acquisition, alongside investment, in its staff base forms an integral part of that future. We are proud to be working in partnership with such a prestigious manufacturer and look forward to seeing it realise its future potential.”

Ken Feast, Business Development Manager at RBS Invoice Finance, said:

“This investment reflects the mission of RBS and NatWest for providing large scale solutions for thriving businesses looking to grow and take that next step up. Manufacturing is the key to unlocking our long-term economic success in the UK and we have worked hard to build an expertise in this sector. Hills is a true example of a hungry business that is making a significant contribution to the automotive industry. As demand increases for its products it will now be able to expand, evolve and continue to deliver.”

Julie Mole, Business Development Manager at NatWest Corporate and Commercial Finance, said:

“We have built a strong relationship with Hills over a number of years and are committed to investing in and supporting its future. The backing doesn’t just stop with the finances as we, alongside RBS Invoice Finance, utilise our knowledge in the sector to advise businesses on the best strategies to accelerate their growth. Hills is no exception and we look forward to seeing it continue on its upward trajectory.”

Freeths LLP, Mazars, Irwin Mitchell and Pinsent Masons all advised on the deal.

Investment drives growth for Dunlop Systems and Components

  • Deal will create 15 new jobs in the next two year
  • Dunlop will use the funding to pursue growth plans in the UK and export markets

Midlands-based manufacturer Dunlop Systems and Components has secured an investment from funds managed by Finance Birmingham and ABN-Amro Commercial Finance. The deal, for an unspecified amount, led by Springboard Corporate Finance, will support the firm’s continued expansion and create more than 15 new jobs in the next two years.

Dunlop designs and manufactures advanced electronic control systems and air suspension components for the automotive and ancillary industries. The investment will be used to fund the company’s growth plans.

The company, with its long Midlands heritage dating back to 1890, was formed in 2007 following a management buy-out of the Coventry based suspension division from the previous owners Trelleborg AB. Under the stewardship of its Managing Director Chris Davis, the business has invested heavily in its infrastructure and capabilities by moving into a purpose built state of the art facility at Prologis Park in Coventry in 2014.

Chris Davis, Managing Director of Dunlop Systems and Components, said:

“As a company we have invested heavily in the infrastructure of the business and now have industry leading capabilities. We are now firmly positioned as an air suspension systems integrator with OEM capabilities. What makes us unique is the ability to service lower volume air suspension requirements, including niche and the aftermarket. “We are also able to undertake test, development and proving work for third parties using our extensive development laboratory facilities. This refinancing will enable the Company to capitalise on this investment and deliver substantial growth in our UK and export markets.”

David Neate, Partner at Springboard Corporate Finance, said:

“Dunlop is a leading global supplier to the automotive sector and this additional funding will enable the company to drive forward its growth by investing in its staff base and product development. This strategy has already seen Dunlop secure a number of new contracts with leading international automotive groups.”

Marcus Hook, Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, said:

Dunlop is a well-established and impressive automotive manufacturing business, with strong customer and supplier relationships and a number of exciting global opportunities ahead of it. The recent move to its purpose-built first class production facility gives the business the capability to deliver on a number of innovative products being developed in the sector. Finance Birmingham aims to support ambitious businesses with huge potential, and the funding package we have provided alongside ABN-Amro will help Dunlop deliver on such exciting prospects.”

Dunlop was advised on the transaction by Springboard Corporate Finance, with a team led by Partner David Neate and executive Jonathan Wright. The Finance Birmingham team comprised Marcus Hook with Guy Walsh leading the transaction for ABN-Amro Commercial Finance. Legal advice to Dunlop was provided by Zanna Patchett at Hill Hofstetter and Wright Hassall advised Finance Birmingham.

Software firm accelerates growth with £1.25m investment

  • Funding will support product development in new and existing markets
  • Company supported by the £56m Mezzanine Fund, supported by the Regional Growth Fund

 The £1.25m funding, provided through Finance Birmingham, will enable Shirley-based eTech, which provides an end-to-end software solution to customers in the Energy Assessment and Mortgage valuation sectors, to further develop its existing product offering and generate additional traction in the surveying and lending sector.

Over the past three years, eTech has invested heavily in developing and launching applications to improve the way residential surveying firms schedule jobs, perform property valuations, store the valuation data and report that information back to lenders.

The firm, which currently employs more than 140 people at its offices in Shirley, intends to recruit additional developers and support staff following the investment. eTech has more than ten years’ experience serving a wide range of organisations including British Gas, npower, First Utility, Direct Valuations and e.surv.

Jim Driver, Managing Director at eTech Solutions, said:

“eTech is very much the sum of its people and as the business grows, we need to continue to invest in the best possible staff to create new products that solve the day-to-day issues our customers face. The funding will enable us to fast-track that process.”

The funding has been provided from the £56m Mezzanine Fund, managed by Finance Birmingham, which is open to SMEs across the West Midlands and supported by the Regional Growth Fund.

Ian Fairclough, Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, said:

“We are backing an ambitious management team who over the past 10 years have established eTech to be a Software as a Service business of genuine scale and capability.  The continual product development and willingness to respond to customer requirements is a core strength of the business and underpins eTech’s ability to help its customers deliver efficiency and profitability from their operational activities.”

£1m investment drives Mercedes Benz production for Coventry manufacturer

  • The deal will create 20 new jobs and safeguard 50 more over the next 12 months
  • Penso City Vehicles will invest in vital tools for the production of the new Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi
  • Manufacturer backed by the £24m Tooling Fund – supported by the Regional Growth Fund – and the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI)

A Coventry-based manufacturer that provides specialist modification to vehicles in the automotive, aerospace, defence and rail sectors has received a £1million investment.

Penso City Vehicles will use the funding to invest in tools to modify the Mercedes Vito Tourer into a low emission taxi, including improving its turning circle and enabling side door wheelchair access. The deal will see the business create 20 new jobs and safeguard a further 50 in the next 12 months.

The firm, which currently employs more than 200 people at its new factory in Coventry, has more than 15 years’ engineering experience working with automotive firms; including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, Bentley, Ford and defence firm BAE Systems.

Michael Collins, Director of Penso City Vehicles, said:

“Our work with Mercedes-Benz has established a strong partnership which we can build on. The investment has not only given us the ability to invest in new processes and technologies for the Vito Taxi, but it has also helped us to focus and develop our two other divisions, in lightweight composites and consulting to further grow the business.”

The funding has been provided from the £24m Tooling Funding Programme – supported by the Regional Growth Fund – which is designed to help toolmakers and component manufacturers fund the design, development and manufacture of tooling or to expand their tooling capacity. Additional investment was provided from the AMSCI fund, designed to improve the global competitiveness of UK advance manufacturing supply chain clients.

Steve Hetherington, Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, said:

“Penso City Vehicles is a business built on strong foundations and has a track record for delivering major projects for international names.  The new Vito Taxi is a testament to the quality and ingenuity of its team. The funding will help it to unlock its further potential by developing its offering and growing its staff base to cater for increasing demand.”

Growth Surge for Electrical Firm Following Further Investment

  • £500k of growth funding from Finance Birmingham and existing shareholders
  • In 12 months, ON-POWER’s revenue has grown from £2.5m to £7m
  • Company works with household names including HSBC and Sainsbury’s

A fast-growing West Midlands-based electrical services contractor is on track to double in size within three years after securing £500,000 of investment from company shareholders and Finance Birmingham.

The deal will enable the business, which tripled its turnover following an initial investment from Finance Birmingham, to pursue further growth plans and create new jobs following a number of high profile contract wins including Next, London Bridge Tube Station and Nottingham University.

ON-POWER, which has bases in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, services clients such as Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s, Asda, South West Trains, HSBC and National Grid.

Jonathan Billingham, Managing Director at ON-POWER, said:

In the last twelve months, ON-POWER has consistently delivered major projects for larger clients. With this track record and latest funding, we will be able to keep up the momentum, grow our team and win more national contracts.”

The investment provided by Finance Birmingham is from its £56m Mezzanine Fund – which is open to SMEs across the West Midlands and supported by the Regional Growth Fund.

Ian Fairclough, Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, said:

ON-POWER is growing rapidly and this latest funding with ensure the company can take full advantage of new opportunities. As well as winning an impressive array of major contracts, the management team has strengthened the business in order to double in size over the next two to three years.”

Response to March 2016 Budget

Sue Summers, chief executive of Finance Birmingham, which provides funding support to small businesses, welcomed the changes to business rate relief:

“Small businesses are the driving force of the UK economy and in many cases, business rates have been limiting successful firms, preventing them from growing and realising their potential as quickly as they could.

“Any measures that help them to gain more control and lower their fixed costs should be welcomed. Alongside this, access to funding and raising the awareness of these options amongst small business owners is the key to unlocking the growth of SMEs. Any steps that provide financial support to small business to take the next step should be embraced.”

Software firm doubles headcount and eyes global expansion with £700k investment

A Midlands-based firm that provides software to manufacturers, finance companies and dealerships in the automotive sector to help them retain customers, has secured a £700,000 investment from Finance Birmingham.

The funding will enable Chrysalis Solmotive Ltd (Chrysalis Global) to more than double its headcount by creating 32 new jobs as well as pursue international expansion plans across North America, Europe and Australia.

The firm, which currently employs 20 staff, has more than ten years’ experience in developing leading customer retention software for its clients and currently serves more than two thirds of the top 200 car retailers in the UK.

Jolyon Barker, Managing Director of Chrysalis Solmotive, said:

“Chrysalis Global has always aimed to help its clients develop robust and sustainable processes. With this new investment from Finance Birmingham,we will be able to continue to expand our business and invest in enhancing our software that we know will exceed clients’ expectations.”

The funding has been provided by Finance Birmingham as part of the £56m Mezzanine Fund – open to SMEs across the West Midlands and supported by the Regional Growth Fund.

Stephen Murray, Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, said:

“Customer retention is a big challenge for most businesses and Chrysalis has built a reputation for providing software that delivers simple and effective solutions in this area, helping to unlock greater profitability. Finance Birmingham aims to support businesses with their growth plans and Chrysalis Global is a prime example of an ambitious company with great track record – and great potential.”

Hawkins Hatton LLP, Andrew Ritson Solicitors and BSN Chartered Accountants advised on the deal.