NEL investment inspires ambitious growth plans for Northumberland HR firm

Uploaded by in Recent Investments, Small Loan Fund on May 18, 2022

A North East human resources consultancy is looking to grow both at home and abroad after winning a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

Inspired HR offers the full range of outsourced HR services, with packages tailored according to each client’s specific needs, and also provides a growing range of legal, recruitment and employee well-being services.

Having grown organically over the last five years, the Blyth-based business is now aiming to accelerate its expansion and is looking to break through the £1m turnover barrier within the next three years.

The Inspired management team has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in a £90,000 Small Loan Fund investment, which will help to strengthen the business’s legal and recruitment arms and take advantage of a range of post-Covid development opportunities.

Founded in 2017 by director Nikki Masterman, Inspired HR’s different service functions regularly work together to provide SMEs with a seamless service in areas where they either don’t have a dedicated in-house HR, recruitment, legal or well-being function or need additional support to underpin their operations.

As well as increasing its client base across the UK, it is enhancing its presence in a number of Middle East states, with an Inspired delegation recently spending a week with clients in Bahrain, and is also looking at future acquisition opportunities.

The business has recently taken on a talent acquisition manager and a relationship manager and is expecting to create a further four new jobs this year, with more to follow next year and beyond.

Nick Wilson, director at Robson Laidler Accountants, Linda Lowther, business advisor with Advice 4 Business North East and Nikki Masterman’s business mentor, David Lynch of 41 Kong Investment Group advised the Inspired HR management team during the investment process.

Nikki Masterman says: “The business was set up to inspire North East SMEs to deliver excellent HR services, as well as to give them somewhere to go to help manage any workforce issues that arise, and our growth so far has been based mainly around recommendations and positive word of mouth.

“Having our different functions under one brand makes collaboration between them very easy to the benefit of the overall service that we provide to our clients and we’re adapting what we offer in line with emerging market needs, especially around our employee well-being and legal services.

“The Middle East offers a range of opportunities for skilled North East personnel in areas such as foundry, oil and gas, and the relationships we’re building in these markets will make a significant contribution to our growth plans.

“We’ve achieved 70% year-on-year growth in each of the last three years, and are already on course to double our turnover during 2022, so we think reaching the million-pound mark by the middle of the decade is well within reach.

“Working with the supportive NEL team was a very efficient and straightforward process, while the advice received from my accountants, business advisor and mentor has played a central role in the development of our growth strategy which will make a substantial difference to our future progress.”

Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Nikki and her team have a very clear strategy for how Inspired is going to advance on a number of different fronts and we’re looking forward to seeing how this very impressive business develops from here.”

Nick Wilson at Robson Laidler says: “In a post-covid world, HR services have never been more in demand and the role of HR has certainly expanded.

“We therefore understood the growth potential of Inspired HR and were delighted to provide them with business advice to allow them to develop and secure the investment they needed to expand and give even more businesses the full range of HR services that they need.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

For more information on NEL’s investment criteria, visit or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.

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