EXPANSION is on the cards for a South Tyneside firm, thanks to a £120,000 investment boost.
After working as the manager of Tynedale Funeral Services for more than four years, experienced undertaker Mark Cook bought the business with his wife, Diane, at the start of this year, when its founder, Peter Kerrigan, decided to retire.
To update its facilities, Tynedale Funeral Services, which employs nine staff, has now secured £120,000 from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund, administered by regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers.
This means a revamp of facilities at the company’s South Shields and Hebburn offices is already under way.
A new Mercedes hearse has also been added to its fleet of vehicles, and a new range of coffins and other products will shortly be introduced to widen the choices available.
Mr Cook began training as a undertaker after leaving school, and has developed his career with regional firms over 25 years.
He said: “When I told my school careers adviser that I wanted to be an undertaker, he didn’t take me at all seriously and sent me on my way, but I always knew it was the right industry for me. Running my own firm is something I’ve wanted to do since I started work.
“Tynedale Funeral Services has established a strong reputation around South Tyneside, and we’re now building on that by bringing in the sorts of new products, services and vehicles that we know will maintain and improve the standards built up here over two decades.
“NEL’s investment will play a central role in creating a sustainable, high-quality family business, and we’re excited by the opportunities that now lie ahead.”
Simon Johnson, senior investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, said: “This is a slightly unusual deal for us, but the principles behind all the Growth Fund investments we’ve made are very much in evidence – an experienced management team with a strong industry track record and robust plans to take the company forward.”
Paul Duncan, partner at Haines Watts Corporate Finance in Newcastle, who advised Tynedale Funeral Services during the investment process, says: “We are very pleased for Mark and Diane - they have realised a long term ambition to own the business, and we look forward to advising them as they develop and expand it.”
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, the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13 and the regional development agency over the next five years.
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.