A successful North East training company’s journey towards ever-widening horizons has been backed by a third tranche of investment from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund.
Group Horizon works with vocational colleges, local authorities and employers of all sizes to help both young and experienced people gain the new skills they need to work in a range of industries, including renewable energy, construction, engineering and manufacturing.
The Gateshead-headquartered firm worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers in 2013 and 2014 to secure Growth Fund investments totalling £380,000, which it has used to broaden both the range of training resources it offers and the markets in which it works.
And it has now become the first company to win a hat-trick of Growth Fund investments after receiving a further £120,000 from NEL to support its continuing expansion drive.
Group Horizon provides employer-led training programmes in association with further education providers across and outside its home region, and has established operations in both Birmingham and Scotland over the last year to go alongside contracts in Hertfordshire, London and across the North East.
It offers a standardised approach to its service provision that can be tailored and rolled out in any location, and its successes has led to contracts being award by several major employers across the UK who were looking for partners to help deliver on their training and corporate social responsibility objectives.
Group Horizon’s portfolio also now includes renewable technologies, Green Deal, energy efficiency, low carbon building treatments, advanced manufacturing and electric vehicle technology. The company employs almost 50 people and has an annual turnover in excess of £4.2m.
The firm’s tutors are all experienced industry professionals, meaning they are able to link the information they provide in the classroom, site and workshop directly to the jobs their students will be doing.
Co-founder Peter Behan says: “The last year has seen us continue to make good progress against our business plan, and properly establishing ourselves in Scotland and Birmingham has taken us on to another level from which we’re confident we can do even more.
“The continuing emphasis on the training agenda, especially around apprenticeships, matches the services we offer extremely closely, and there’s a real sense of achievement for us in having helped hundreds of people around the country into employment over the past few years.
“We’re continuing to invest heavily in research and development so that the courses we develop are shaped precisely to meet client requirements, and because we offer standardised systems and services regardless of location, major name firms trust that we’ll be able to deliver exactly what they want.
“Having sufficient working capital is crucial in enabling us to put everything in place that we need to be able to offer, which is where NEL’s involvement with the business has been invaluable, and there’s no way we could have achieved what we have without their support, both financial and advisory.
“We know each other very well, and the investments we’ve been able to make with their help in our services, sites and people have been central to keeping the business moving forward.”
Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Group Horizon is a regional success story with a real and widening national footprint, and is using investment capital as a means of developing the business in line with a strong flow of commercial opportunities.”
Aimed at regional businesses which are at a development and growth stage, the Growth Fund forms part of the wider Finance for Business North East Fund.
Managed by North East Finance, it will see £125m of investment capital injected into the region by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13 over a five year period.
NEL is looking to make around 130 investments over the five-year life span of the Growth Fund, and is actively looking to speak to ambitious north east companies with robust business plans.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0845 111 1850.
The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing over £300m into North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support. It will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.
For further information on Group Horizon, please call 0191 497 7722 or visit www.grouphorizon.co.uk