Business clinic: HSBC’s £100m fund will help SMEs grow

HSBC is keen to support growing, ambitious companies across Lancashire and that is why we recently launched a £100m fund to support SMEs across this region with their growth plans.

Jason Gledhill HSBCBy Jason Gledhill, area commercial director for HSBC in Lancashire and Cumbria.

The fund launch, which is available to businesses with a turnover of up to £30m, is part of a wider £500m pot of money to help businesses across the North West, and £6bn nationally.

The driver behind the launch of this fund was the clear change in business sentiment over the past 12 to 6 months; we have seen many businesses across the patch bring forward investment plans and are looking to capitalise on the economic recovery to invest in growth.

A recent piece of HSBC research demonstrated this point exactly. The ‘Business of Growth’ report predicts an increase in fixed investment – physical assets including machinery, premises and stock – of 7.1% in 2014. This compares to a pre-recession average annual investment growth of 3.6%. This figure has also been revised significantly upwards in recent months, marking increased confidence in the recovery.

Of course, Lancashire is a diverse county boasting many business sectors, but the positive news is that this recovery is broad-based. We are seeing investment and strong demand for funding from a range of sectors and for companies of all sizes.

For example, we recently funded a new climbing wall centre towards the north of our patch for a start-up business, led by an ambitious entrepreneur who developed a career designing climbing walls but had never run his own centre.

At the other end of the scale, we have supported two long-established companies, one in Preston and one in Blackpool, to invest in new laser cutting equipment so that they can fulfil burgeoning order books.

These businesses are all creating new jobs and economic growth in their respective communities, but they are typical of the businesses we are supporting each day via the fund.

The launch of our SME Fund with £100m allocated locally further evidences our belief and commitment in Lancashire and the opportunities that exist for ambitious businesses both domestically and internationally. We’re seeing businesses take a professional approach to growing their operations and they are speaking to us at an earlier stage to help them make informed decisions. We have a substantial approved funding pipeline for a cross section of businesses in a variety of sectors, all strong indicators that the future is positive.