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Grimsby fledgling food firm used as a Midlands Engine exemplar

THE Midlands Engine has roared into North East Lincolnshire, with nearly 100 delegates hearing about funding opportunities to oil the cogs of growth for UK Plc.

Grimsby fledgling food firm used as a Midlands Engine exemplar

And any confusion about geographical application was swept aside with a case study focusing on Scratch Meals, Grimsby’s latest food firm, as it attracted £1.5 million to meet its scaling up aspirations. 

David Tindsley, investment manager at Maven Capital Partners, a collaborator in the British Business Bank backed scheme that works with 10 local enterprise partnerships, said: “Scratch Meals came to us a little while ago. They were looking to raise £1.5 million as part of their growth plans. The bank was able to do £500,000, they got equity investment of £500,000, but they were still half a million short. 

“This is a business with a good management team, lots of experience in the sector, and growing sales. In 2017 it did £2.7 million, this year it is on for £4.8 million.  They have very good relationships with the retailers and lots of plans to expand. They want to develop production, buy new equipment. It has been profitable, generates cash and is creating jobs. It is a clear example of what we’re about.”

Organised by InvestmentHub NEL, the finance signposting service sponsored by the local authority, professional service providers mingles with business owners at Europarc, with Mr Tindsley able to look out of the Innovation Centre window and into Scratch’s Humber Seafood Institute base.

As reported, it has recently launched No Dough Pizza Co, using a cauliflower base, adding to the Fit Kitchen brand it launched healthy ready meal solutions with.

Scratch moved north from west London to take advantage of all the established food cluster offers, and has gone from a tight team of four to 70-strong operation.

Lauren Tunnicliffe, marketing communications manager for the British Business Bank had started off proceedings.

She was keen to help encourage businesses to seek financial support, for the good of the nation. “70 per cent of smaller businesses would rather forego growth than borrow. Once people go to a bank (and are declined) they think that’s the end. There are lots of opportunities to access finance.”

The audience speculated about it being a generational trend or risk aversion from the crash a decade ago.

Iain Girdley, of IvestmentHub NEL, told how when working in banking “I saw a lot of businesses over-borrowing, but equally as bad, others under-borrowing and missing opportunity."

InvestmentHub director Anthony Winn said the past 18 months have seen 128 businesses supported, with 115 cases “put to bed with funding found” and 13 open.

A total of £12.2 million has been secured for Grimsby-area companies, with a mix of grant-funding and finance, with a total of 230 jobs created as a result. 

“It is a fantastic story,” he enthused of the free service provided. “We have hardly found a business we haven’t been able to help.”

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