The positive impact on the operations of an innovative north east sign and print business of a Finance For Business North East Growth Fund investment has led its management team to seek a second round of funding to support the next stages of its development.
One Sign & Digital provides a one-stop shop for every element of the commercial signage and print industry, from bespoke signage, point of sale materials and vehicle livery through to illuminated signs, digital graphics and a bespoke print service.
In early 2013, the Team Valley-based business worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £200,000 Growth Fund investment, part of which was used to buy the region’s first high precision Durst Omega 1 flatbed digital printer.
This machine, which prints directly onto a wide range of different materials at photographic quality, has led directly to One Sign bringing in two new blue chip clients with which it now works on a daily bases.
Further new business has been secured both within and outside the North East, leading to three new people being added to the existing 22-strong team since the first investment went in.
To help ensure they have the working capital and equipment required to successfully manage the firm’s continuing growth, the One Sign management team has now gone back to NEL for a further £100,000 from the Growth Fund, part of which will be used to fund a new aluminium welding machines, which allows for a higher quality product finish.
Established in 2009 by then 26 year-old MD Chris Timmins, One Sign & Digital already works with many of the region’s best-known organisations, including Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle Racecourse, Gateshead College and Ramsdens, as well as many other clients right across the UK.
The company added a 1,000 square feet of production space at the rear of its existing Team Valley premises last year to help meet customer demand, and is looking in the long-term at a further extension of the factory which would allow room for a second Durst Omega 1 printer in 2015.
A range of measures introduced last year to reduce the environmental impact of the business’s operations, including the fitting of new LED lighting systems, double glazing and thermal insulated shutter doors, have also helped significantly reduce its energy costs.
Chris Timmins says: “The capital we received last year has been absolutely crucial in enabling us to set the business up how we wanted it to be, and to pursue the sort of work that we think best fits with our capabilities – doing any of this wouldn’t have been an option without it.
“Properly managing its expansion is one of the biggest challenges that any growing business faces, and we recognised a need to increase the working capital available to us so we could do just that.
“We’ve had a very positive relationship with the NEL team since the first investment went in, and have stayed close to them as we’ve progressed, so extending this relationship seemed like a very natural step.
“Having set the business up at the beginning of the recession, it’s really pleasing to see how far One Sign has come already – we’ve got a great team on board who’re all committed to what we’re Jonathan Luke, portfolio manager at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The One Sign management team’s initial business plan has been executed very impressively, and providing them with the capital required to support their continuing development offered an attractive investment proposition.
“Making capital available like this at different stages of regional businesses’ evolution is crucial to both their success and that of the wider North East economy.”
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.