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Lancashire investment vehicle reaches £1m milestone

Lancashire County Council’s Rosebud Fund, which invests between £10,000 and £300,000 in businesses across the region, has exceeded £1m of lending since its inception in July 2019.

To date, the Fund has made 11 investments which have enabled businesses to take on staff, increase stock levels, purchase plant and machinery and develop new products. So far, Rosebud funding has led to the creation of 85 new jobs in Lancashire.

GC Business Finance was appointed to deliver the £11.25m Fund across 12 local authority areas in Lancashire. It is aiming to create 150 jobs per year and focuses on sectors such as aerospace; advanced manufacturing; digital and creative; energy and environment; health innovation; and financial and professional services.

The £1m mark was exceeded after the Fund invested £300,000 in Burnley-based CoolKit, a provider of temperature-controlled vehicle solutions to businesses in the pharmaceutical and food wholesale and home delivery industries. The company offers van conversions, ready-converted vans, and van converting kits, allowing new and used vehicles to be modified to transport perishable loads. CoolKit works with some of the UK’s leading food businesses, including Marks & Spencer, as well as with vehicle rental companies like Enterprise Flex-E-Rent and utility companies such as United Utilities.

CoolKit is also the provider of equipment to the pharmaceutical wholesale industry, following changes made by the MHRA (the UK’s health regulatory agency) which mean that products must be transported in temperature-controlled vehicles. The company is now partnered with the three largest wholesalers of pharmaceuticals in the UK, and has been chosen as the sole provider for the distribution operations of Boots Chemist and Lloyds Pharmacy.

CoolKit will primarily be using the loan as working capital; funding the extra capacity required to deal with a surge in its order intake, which has increased nearly three-fold (by 289%) in the year to date. In addition, money will also be heavily invested in Research & Development, identifying new products for future generations of vehicles, especially electrically powered vans which must satisfy Low Emission Zone (LEZ) criteria.

Rosebud has also proven popular for smaller loans, providing a five-figure loan to Chorley-based Tunit, a provider of performance and fuel efficiency systems for Heavy Goods Vehicles in the agricultural and waste transport industry. The loan will fund a targeted marketing campaign, and it is looking to create a minimum of four jobs in 2020.

Established in 2002, GC Business Finance provides a range of alternative finance options for growing businesses. It delivers more than £60m in finance to over 5,000 small and medium sized enterprises each year.

Chris Hutchison, Head of Lending at GC Business Finance, said:We have been getting our message out to Lancashire businesses that there is money to be invested, and we have seen an uptick in activity as a result. In this turbulent economic time, we want to ensure that SMEs across the region have access to the funding they need to grow and come out of this parlous period strong than ever. We are expecting to see further appetite for Rosebud funding throughout the year, and we have a dedicated team on the ground to meet and help prospective businesses.

County Councillor Michael Green, Lancashire County Council, said:Rosebud has made significant progress over the last few months and the pipeline is certainly looking strong. It is encouraging to see that Lancashire businesses are still receptive of the support available to them and are striving to boost job creation and innovation across the region, which Rosebud plays a crucial role in enabling.

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