Compass Business Finance has become the first industry lender to be accredited under the government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, opening up more asset lending options to print SMEs.
Under the programme, run by the British Business Bank (BBB), the government's economic development bank, Sevenoaks-based Compass can now access government-backed guarantees for up to 75% of a printer's asset-based loan of between £1,000 and £1.2m.
It is hoped that this will enable smaller print businesses that might not have the security needed to meet normal credit requirements to gain approval, with support from Compass.
Compass director Mark Nelson said: “Gaining this accreditation is a feather in our cap as, in the world of finance, we are relatively small compared to the bigger banks. To have gone through the application process and succeeded vindicates what we do and supports the print market.
“What this makes us is a funder committed to the print sector and willing to put substantial investment into it. We often see companies that need to invest and upgrade, but it is a capital-intensive process and the economy is not currently robust enough to support a lot of companies who might struggle to come up with deposits or security.
“Our aim is to make sure we utilise this programme to the fullest extent that we can by making people aware of it and inviting them to come and have a chat with us about what we can do. Lots of business that may not have been written could be written now.”
The EFG programme was launched in 2009 and has provided more than 29,950 loans and facilities worth more than £3.2bn. Compass was involved in the initial consultation to set up the scheme.
Upon applying to join the scheme itself, the company was put through a rigorous year-long process of demonstrating its business plan for review by the BBB, followed by a full audit and a day of training for all staff. Compass will now be audited quarterly by the BBB to make sure it is continuing to make proper use of the EFG scheme.
Earlier this year, a Compass loan supported the replacement of kit damaged in a fire at East Sussex-based Tansley Printers that wrote off a Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 52 B3 perfector, a Konica Minolta bizhub Press C1060 and a fleet of finishing kit.
Nelson established Compass with his brother Jamie in 2005 and the firm has gone on to grow into a key lender for the print sector.