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05/07/2013

Wilkinson Star stocks up with £200,000 North West Fund loan from FW Capital

Wilkinson Star, one of the UK’s largest welding equipment stockists is the latest company to benefit from a North West Fund for Business loan via FW Capital, the company which manages The North West Fund’s £35m Business Loans Fund.

The £200,000 loan provides additional working capital for the company to expand its product range and improve stock levels to meet latent demand and increase its sales revenues.

Established over 40 years ago, Wilkinson Star supplies over 2,500 distributors from its purpose-built 55,000 sq.ft Worsley sales and distribution facility.  The company has built a strong customer base over the years. As well as its UK and export sales operations, Wilkinson Star also provides NVQ/VRQ-level training for apprentices and more experienced staff on the latest welding equipment.

“We’ve worked hard to build up our company into one of the UK’s major welding equipment wholesalers and we have a reputation for providing a high-quality after-sales service,” explained Chairman, John Wilkinson.  “We’ve also adapted to recent market pressures by sourcing more products from the Far East and China rather than from our more traditional European suppliers.”

Commenting on the investment, Wilkinson added: “We have a well-established distributor network and demand for the products we wholesale is strong.  Added to this, we’re always expanding our product range to maintain our competitive edge.  This investment will enable us to ensure we have the right product range and stock levels in place to meet customer demand.”

Simon Berry, Senior Investment Executive at FW Capital said: “Wilkinson Star is a well-established North West-based brand.  It has built a large and loyal customer base and its domestic and foreign sales are increasing.  FW Capital’s loan will enable its management team to continue growing the business in a sustainable way.” 

A contact of Berry’s at HSBC, commercial manager, Ian Adams referred the deal to FW Capital. Commenting on the investment, Adams said: “Wilkinson Star is a valued client with a strong expansion plan, so referring to FW Capital for growth funding was a natural progression. The North West Fund loan complements HSBC’s working capital facilities and we look forward to working with FW Capital again.”

FW Capital manages the £35 million North West Fund for Business Loans, which makes loans of between £50,000 and £250,000 to viable small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) based in the North West of England.

Andy Leach, chief executive of NWBF said:  “It is especially pleasing that the North West Fund for Loans has been able to support the growth plans of such a long established North West business.  Wilkinson Star has had to adapt its business to cope with the changing economic climate and is now able to capitalise on growth opportunities as a result.”

The North West Fund is a £185m evergreen fund financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) led the development and creation of The North West Fund from drawing-board (2008) to launch (2010) and NWDA funding will continue to support The North West Fund until 2015 as one of its major legacy projects.

David Malpass, Director of European Programme said: “It is encouraging to see businesses in the Northwest’s key sectors continuing to grow.  With investment from The North West Fund Wilkinson Star is able to capitalise on its strong growth potential even in tough economic conditions.”

Demand for welding and cutting products is largely determined by global steel consumption and in 2010 global steel demand exceeded 2007 levels.

Find out more about investing in the North West of England.

*The North West Fund for Business Loans has now been replaced by The North West Fund for Loans Plus.

North West Fund Loans Plus