My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Three businesses benefit £95,000 from smaller loans initiative

LED Mulitplexer

The British Business Bank announces the first smaller loan deals from the £130m Investment Fund for Wales (IFW), with three investments totalling £95,000 from the Smaller Loans fund, managed by appointed fund managers BCRS.

The £40,000 investment into Wrexham-based Wynnstay Self Storage, £30,000 to Blackwood-based photonics specialist manufacturer, Bluebox Optics, and £25,000 to takeaway Metro Eatery Ltd in the Vale of Glamorgan, are the first small loans announced on behalf of the Investment Fund for Wales.

The Investment Fund for Wales was launched by the government-backed British Business Bank in November 2023 to boost the supply of early-stage finance to small and medium-sized businesses across Wales. The Fund offers a range of commercial finance options with smaller loans from £25,000 to £100,000, debt finance from £100,000 to £2m and equity investment up to £5 million.

Wynnstay Self Storage was previously a family-run sawmill since 1984, inherited by Matt Pritchard when his father and founder of the business, Geoff Pritchard, passed away in 2016.

Matt joined his father’s sawmill business in 1999 and opened up a bespoke joinery workshop. Rising costs meant they were importing more and more timber and after a year at the helm, Matt made the decision to evolve and diversify into self storage to make use of the land.

He invested in half a dozen shipping containers and after conversations with a friend who had nowhere to store his caravan off-season Matt also now offers parking plots for this very purpose.

Matt Pritchard, owner of Wynnstay Self Storage, said: “Our success has all been down to word of mouth and we are consistently full to capacity.

“This injection of investment will enable me to purchase a further ten shipping containers and to develop the infrastructure to increase the size of the business in order that our land is more efficiently utilised. I also plan on rebuilding my existing workshop into one that is more fit for purpose.”

Blackwood-based Bluebox Optics is a photonics specialist manufacturer which develops LED light sources for fluorescence microscopy for use within the health and medical sectors.

They will use their £30,000 IFW loan as growth capital to help to bring to market a product range of LED medical light engine systems, which include systems for not only fluorescence microscopy but also endoscopy and to replace lamp systems with LEDs for microscopy.

It also features associated optical fibre, meaning that surgeons are able to see more on clinical monitors used during keyhole surgery.

Bluebox Optics CEO, Ron Yandle, said: “We have worked extensively with universities on medical device research projects and this loan will enable us to develop discussions we’ve had with Imperial College London on developing a LED light engine and camera system to help make breast cancer reconstruction surgery more efficient. 

“Getting finance to develop, rather than produce, a device within the field of medical technology can be challenging.

“BCRS and the Investment Fund for Wales recognise our vision and have provided valuable business planning and forecasting advice.

Muhammed Mujib of Metro Eatery Limited will use their loan as growth finance to fit-out a second takeaway on Cardiff Road, Dinas Powys.

Mark Sterritt, Director, Nations and Regions Investment Funds at the British Business

Bank, said: “The Bank’s Investment Fund for Wales was established to support smaller businesses with their growth ambitions and these three smaller loans demonstrate that.

“Wynnstay Self Storage, Bluebox Optics and Metro Eatery Limited have solid foundations to build upon, and this growth capital will certainly enable them to continue progressing their businesses to the next level. We wish them every success with their continued growth.”

Stephen Deakin, Chief Executive, BCRS

Stephen Deakin, Chief Executive at BCRS, said: “BCRS are proud to be supporting small businesses like Wynnstay Self Storage, Bluebox Optics and Metro Eatery Limited to gain access to finance so that they can grow and thrive, which in turn will contribute to the success of the wider Welsh economy.

“Small businesses remain the backbone of our economy and a force for social good. Working with Investment Fund for Wales we will continue to ensure no viable business goes unsupported.”