Having just submitted an application for funding to the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for one of our food producer clients, I thought I would take a quick look at what funding options are potentially available for businesses in the food & drink sector.
The RDPE Growth Programme was launched earlier this year. Food [and drink] production is one of the areas where grant funding is potentially available. I have written previously on some of the eligibility criteria; essentially what is being sought is projects which deliver “growth + rural + jobs”. It is worth noting that for food and drink production, the business applying for the grant does not itself have to be based in a rural area as long as its raw product is being sourced locally. Grant intervention rates vary across the South West – read more here on a previous blog.
There is also LEADER (rural, small business) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for those that fit the criteria.
My colleagues and myself across PKF Francis Clark deal with a considerable number of businesses who secure their funding from the bank. In addition, a number have secured finance from the alternative finance providers – most notably the crowdfunding/peer to peer platforms. Our experience echoes the statistics that show predominance of food & drink producers on the platforms – presumably as people understand the product and/or the proposition. We are also working with Capitalised, a fintech financial broker, who are able to scan the market to find a variety of suitable finance.
A colleague recently wrote a blog on ‘crowdfunding equity’ which included some statistics on the popularity of the food and drink sector for the crowd. We will be hoping to add to the number of successful pitches to Crowdcube in the next few months with a proposition that involves excellent quality product; great brand and is scalable. It should be noted that the most business which holds the world crowdfunding record (£26m) is from the food and drink sector, Brewdog, and according to data from Seedrs last year, 11% of food and drink deals were successfully funded – more than any other sector.
Last year, colleagues worked on the first of two fundraises for a small restaurant chain. The first involved equity injection from two business angels and also brought considerable management expertise and contacts to the table. Unfortunately (for us), the fund raise concluded with us losing the client as the incoming brought their advisers with them. We have, however, been credited by the ex-clients solicitors for helping the business get into shape for the private equity injection that followed.
My colleagues in the Corporate Finance team have recently worked on the Friska Private Equity raise and the vibes are that Private Equity is interested in further scalable propositions with an exit route in the food and drink sector.
Feedback from a recent Crowdfunder event highlighted that the food and drink sector is well represented amongst businesses successfully raising funds from the crowd in exchange for rewards – the rewards being the pre-sale of product and related goods. A key factor for a good pitch is the customer understands and can relate to the product which often works well in B2C sectors. We are expecting news from Crowdfunder on some exciting initiatives they are engaged in to further boost success in the food and drink sector and I am sure we will blog about this in due course.
Whilst not always a provider of funding, there are various business support options potentially available to businesses and some of these have a particular focus on the food and drink sector – a good example being Export for Growth.
As always with funding updates – ‘watch this space’.
Specifically for those of you who are in based in Cornwall, there is the ‘Cornwall Fund’ (previously known as ‘financial instruments’) which is due to launch towards the end of the year. This will see an allocated fund manager team up with The British Business Bank to offer additional debt and equity finance.
If you are looking for a grant funding and/or other forms of financing for your Food & Drink industry project, please feel free to get in contact with myself or one of my colleagues.