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Loans aid growth for Sheffield environmental consultancy

Published: 25th January 2009

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John Philips, of Mercia Corporate Finance, Chris Routh from ECUS, and Grahame Lunt from SYIF.

A Sheffield consultancy that advises and supports companies in managing their environmental impact has received loans totalling £85,000 to strengthen its position in the UK.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund provided ECUS Ltd with a loan of £50,000 last year to complete a Management Buy Out from the University of Sheffield, where the organisation was established in 1986.

The Company will use a further £35,000 from SYIF to improve infrastructure and help the directors actively to seek new business opportunities.

ECUS, which has a strong client base throughout the region as well as contracts around the world, specialises in five principal areas - environmental management, geoscience, ecology, environmental impact assessment and landscape architecture.

The environmental industry is highly competitive with more than 700 other consultancies registered in the UK. ECUS will use the money from SYIF to develop new business by improving its IT infrastructure and project management software, as well as dedicating more resources to marketing and a new website.

Chris Routh, Managing Director of ECUS, who in 1990 became the Company’s first full time member of staff, said: “We’ve been able to grow our fee income by over 30% in 2008 and added five new staff but we’re in a fiercely competitive industry and need to be able to go out there and continue to develop the business and our market share.

“This means having the right structures in place and putting resources into marketing ECUS and the services we provide to a much larger audience.

“Environmental issues are now, more than ever, high on the public agenda and the issues facing companies can play an extremely significant role in their successes or failures.

“We help companies with problems ranging from legal compliance services and waste management to site investigations and risk assessments, from landscape management to ecological appraisals.

“These are all issues that organisations frequently have to face, most of them backed by legislation, so there is enormous scope for development and we now have the resources to expand as necessary.”

Grahame Lunt, Investment Manager for SYIF, said: “ECUS is an innovative and inventive organisation that has all the ingredients to develop its operations as far as it wants.

“Green issues are increasingly vital for companies and corporate social responsibility is something they need to take very seriously. ECUS is well placed to provide this expertise.”

John Phillips of Mercia Corporate Finance, who is also NED chairman at ECUS, introduced the deal to SYIF. Mercia Corporate Finance has more than 10 years experience in advising and raising development capital for environmental businesses. SYIF can provide seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15k to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

For more information about South Yorkshire Investment Fund, please visit www.syif.com or ring 01709 386377

Editor's Notes

About South Yorkshire Investment Fund

South Yorkshire Investment Fund  provided seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15k to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

Created as part of the Objective 1 programme, the Fund is a private and public sector business finance provider. The European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward are investors in the Fund.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provided access to Business Angel investments from the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels and Microloans through BiG Business Loan Fund and Donbac Microloan Fund.

Finance Yorkshire has now taken on responsibility for providing gap finance in Yorkshire and the Humber.

For further details please contact Suzanne Tinkler,  on 0845 649 0000.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd is a company limited by guarantee (Registered No 3936065). South Yorkshire Investment Fund comprises three sub funds, the South Yorkshire Investment Capital Fund, the South Yorkshire Investment Development Fund, which are each managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, and the South Yorkshire Investment Small Business Fund, which is managed by Finance South Yorkshire Ltd. YFM Venture Finance Limited (Tel 0113 294 5000) and Finance South Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 01709 386 377) are each authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provides a number of services, which are not regulated by The Financial Services Authority. These include the pilot Seedcorn Fund, BiG Business Loan Fund, Mentorbank and access to the Donbac Microloan Fund. BiG Business Loan Fund is managed by Donbac Ltd (company registration No. 01925556) and Key Fund Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 0114 242 8900).