Category Archives: Manufacturing

PM+M Helps East Lancs Box Co. Limited Secure Six Figure Lancashire Growth Fund Grant

Press Photo - ELB

L-R: Andrew Cowking (PM+M), David Ingham, Peter Ingham, Amy Ingham & Neil Harrison

Andrew Cowking and the PM+M team have helped East Lancashire Box Co. secure a £120,000 grant from the Lancashire Growth Fund which will see the creation of 12 new jobs.

East Lancashire Box Co. was established in 1981 and is headquartered in Rishton near Blackburn. It manufactures bespoke cardboard box packaging and products. It offers a complete service, from initial concepts to the final product and handles all elements of design, print and production. The company’s product range is visible on the shelves of all the major supermarkets both within the UK and overseas.

The grant will be used to purchase new equipment including a state-of-the-art printer and a die cutter. The aim is to create a colour printing facility under one roof in 16,000 sq ft of new production space at the Junction 7 Business Park in Clayton-Le-Moors with the capacity to meet current and expected demand. The 12 new jobs will include apprenticeship and production positions.

Andrew Cowking – partner at PM+M – handled the forecasts for the grant application whilst Neil Harrison of The Harrison Partnership coordinated all elements of the grant application process, which was completed in just over 3 weeks from starting the application to the making of the offer.

Peter Ingham – director of East Lancashire Box Co. – said: This is a significant investment for the company and is an exciting milestone in our history. The grant will help to support our growth plans and will ensure that we are able to develop our offering and provide a bespoke service to all our customers – from small businesses to multinationals.

Andrew Cowking added: “East Lancashire Box Co. is a forward thinking family-owned business and one of the region’s most entrepreneurial companies. We were delighted to help them secure the grant and we look forward to seeing how it aids their expansion over the coming years.”

It’s manufacturing, but not as we know it!

3D Widget Printing

I have written blogs and articles before on the advance of 3D printing and what it could mean for manufacturing in all kinds of sectors. The new Airbus A350 XWB (unveiled last year) has about 1,000 3D printed components. 3D printing is clearly no longer a novelty manufacturing process and it has the potential to transform the aerospace industry supply chain and cost structure, producing lighter parts faster with less waste. Currently, the components are mostly widgets and brackets, small routine parts rather than large structures. The size of the part is limited by the size of the printer so it is difficult to imagine a machine large enough to make an airframe, but wider applications seem to be a distinct short term possibility.

But clock the latest advances. Scientists in the US have been using 3D printing to create living body parts with sections of bone, muscle and cartilage all functioning normally when implanted into animals. Move over Dr Frankenstein!!

Seriously though, this technology has the potential to disrupt many industries and there is significant funding being made available in the sector. Rosebud Finance and the North West Fund have recently invested additional money in an East Lancashire business to finance its rapid growth. It seems the possibilities are only limited by the boundaries of imagination.

If you are thinking of investing in new technologies and need pointing in the direction of funding, then give one of the Corporate Finance team a call on 01254 679131 and ask to speak to Jim Akrill or Tim Mills or contact me directly at

Jim Akrill – Corporate Finance Partner

PM+M Corporate Finance complete Management Buy-In at WS Rothband

shutterstock_242204359WS Rothband & Co. Limited, established in 1860 and supplier to the NHS for almost 70 years, has been acquired in a management buy-in led by Paul Dixon. Rothband has been developing protective equipment for radiology departments since the technology was introduced to the NHS.

The deal was funded by Seneca Partners and Rosebud Business Finance, and Tim Murphy, a director of Seneca Partners, will join the board at Rothband. Both Seneca and Paul Dixon are delighted with the acquisition, as they believe the market has huge potential for growth.

Paul Dixon commented: “One of the key factors in completing this acquisition and being able to successfully implement our growth plan, was always going to be finding the right team. Having worked with Jim previously I knew that he and PM+M were the right company to lead this venture and put together the right funding package.”

FW Capital and Ultimate Invoice Finance provided working capital to fund post-acquisition growth. Legal advice was provided to Seneca by Napthens and Taylors were legal advisers to Paul Dixon.

Jim Akrill, Corporate Finance Partner at PM+M, commented: “This was a challenging and complex deal to do but we were able to put together a funding package with a balanced mix of debt and equity which will allow the business to drive its exciting growth plans.”

For more information or advice on acquisitions, please contact Jim Akrill on 01254 679131 or by email at

Improving Blackburn with Darwen by Skill and Hard Work

prosperity blog

On Tuesday 18th November, PM+M Corporate Services Partner David Gorton attended A Plan for Prosperity held at Accrol, which laid down Blackburn with Darwen’s plan for the next six years. With 27 priorities identified in total, over 100 attendees addressed issues including infrastructure and housing, business investment and innovation, employability, quality of life and image and marketing. Here’s what David had to say about the event:

“It was great to see a rational, achievable plan for improving Blackburn.

A legal requirement of auditors is being professionally sceptical and this comes very easily to me.  I am sceptical of bureaucracy (whether large corporate, central government or local government), I am sceptical of anyone self-important and I am particularly sceptical of pompous plans where bureaucracy combines with self-importance to generate bland nonsense.

I was sceptical of the launch of the Plan for Prosperity, an event co-hosted by the Blackburn with Darwen Local Strategic Partnership, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the Hive business network.

Confounding my scepticism, it was an event produced by a lot of skill and hard work. It ran on time, it included focused and interesting business presentations and it briefly and impressively explained the background to and the key features of a competent plan for the borough’s future.

The plan builds on the great businesses founded in the borough and targets creating more of these to push through wider improvements.  Real priorities were identified and pushed by presenters in ways which made good sense and struck a chord across the diverse audience.

Putting improving the image of Blackburn as a key priority is a welcome acceptance of reality, as is the need to provide housing of a type which people at all levels of society want to live in.  There were also realistic targets for increasing commercial property availability, improving transport and driving up the number of jobs created in the borough.

Inevitably, in parts the plan was a bit “motherhood and apple pie” – priorities such as “longer life expectancy”, “more residents in work” and “more people living and working in the borough” are bland.  It’s hard to see how soft but important matters can be targeted much better.

The real issue noted during presentations (and afterwards) is the challenge of linking up education and employment – governments for years treated exam qualifications as equivalent to being fit for employment, despite the message from business of all sizes is that this becomes less true every year. I think that the message from schools is that the central focus on results and league tables makes flexing school activities for local employment needs really difficult.

It was striking that of the 10 high schools in the borough, only 1 head teacher attended the presentation – I think the employability part of the plan may be the most challenging!”

Following the event, Blackburn with Darwen Council and HIVE have launched the 2014 Business Survey. How has 2014 been for you as a business in Blackburn with Darwen? What does 2015 hold? Please take a few minutes to complete the survey and have your say:

How can your manufacturing business turn £1 into £20 or more?


Recently, Richard Ainscough and I went to this intriguing event, held at Bentley in Crewe, run by the North West Aerospace Alliance and the Design Council.  Like many of you might be thinking now, we were thinking “Just what has design got to do with manufacturing in the SME sector?” We naturally related design more to high end goods, luxury brands and fashion.  Watches and handbags, not machine tools and component parts.  How wrong were we?

A recent study carried out by Warwick Business School and the Design Council showed clearly how design can add value to any organisation by:

  • Driving innovation and opening up uncontested spaces
  • Differentiating products and services to attract customers
  • Strengthening branding, embodying a company’s values and improving recognition

The more strategic the use of design, the greater the benefit, but design can also improve the work environment:

  • Facilitate interdepartmental collaboration encouraging teamwork, dialogue and creativity
  • Change the physical space to better reflect the brand or improve working practices
  • Provide a more structured approach to product or service development

And it wasn’t just academic speak either.  We went through case studies in a number of sectors including textiles, engineering and high technology where businesses had made huge strides forward through embracing design:

  • Enabling premium prices to be charged for world class products
  • Re-branding to develop new markets
  • Streamlining of new product development

Taking part in the Design Leadership Programme costs between £2,000 and £15,000 depending on your needs and the size of your organisation and you would be working with some of the most experienced designers in the UK.  So if you have an opportunity to turn £15,000 into £300,000 then what’s not to like?

Contact me or Richard for a confidential discussion.

Jim Akrill – Corporate Finance Partner

Partwell Group Acquires SJH Row & Sons

Blackburn-based manufacturer, Partwell Holdings, which specialises in cutting technology, CNC machining of plastic parts and the manufacture of food cutting surfaces, has acquired Essex-based competitor, SJH Row and Sons.

Row is a long-established business specialising in the manufacture of cutting surfaces for the food industry.

Partwell started trading in 1979. This latest acquisition takes staff numbers to 39 and is evidence of their continued growth and market expansion.

Jim Akrill, Corporate Finance Partner at PM+M, advised Partwell on the deal. He said: “This was an excellent strategic move for Partwell. Row is a brand leader in its sector. The acquisition opens up new markets for Partwell and introduces complementary product lines. The combined entities will have greater critical mass leading to enhanced future prospects.”

Legal adviser to Partwell was Blackburn-based commercial firm, Taylors. Corporate Partner, Stephen Jarman, said: “It was a delight to be able to help Partwell acquire such an historic, but still very relevant, company as SJH Row. One hundred and thirty years of trading history did throw up some problems, but we were able to overcome them. We wish Ashley and Partwell all the best with the new acquisition.”

MD at Partwell, Ashley Bradburn said “It has been a pleasure to work with PM+M and Taylors, whose input played a crucial role in ensuring the transaction went smoothly and was completed within our timeframes.”

Senior debt was provided by HSBC with additional working capital from North West Fund for Loans Plus, managed by FW Capital.