• Sam Johnson

Asbestos removal specialist sets sights on Welsh expansion after securing support from Finance For E

A specialist Yorkshire-based asbestos removal business is expanding its operations into Wales, after securing a six figure investment from alternative lending provider Finance For Enterprise and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Barnsley-based Lilquest Asbestos Management has been helping to remove hazardous building materials since its formation in 2005. Following the acquisition of the business by experienced environmental engineer Lee Hodgkins in 2015, the company has embarked upon a significant period of growth and expansion which has seen its workforce grow from three employees to 50, as well as establishing a division in the South East.

The launch of the new division which will be based in Cardiff forms part of the part of the company’s future growth plans and Lilquest has set its sights on more than doubling its turnover from £3m to £7.5m as part of the company’s five year growth plan.

After spotting a niche for its specialist services in South Wales, Lilquest approached Finance For Enterprise to secure the vital funds it needed to establish a new operational centre, which create ten new roles, with five members of staff operating from its newly launched Wales division as well as an additional five roles based within company’s head office and South East division.

Following an introduction by Reach Commercial Finance, Finance For Enterprise was able to help Lilquest to secure the £250,000 loan required to fuel its ambitious growth plans. The loan comprised of £25,000 of lending secured through Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund BEF FFE Micofinance, with Finance For Enterprise funding the remainder of the lending. Lilquest specialises in the removal, demolition, decontamination, or encapsulation of asbestos and counts universities, manufacturers, the NHS, Local Authorities and even stately homes amongst its national client base.

Measures to restrict the use of asbestos, once commonly used as a means of fire protection and insulation, was first introduced in the UK in 1985, with a total ban on asbestos coming into effect in 1999 and exposure to asbestos is responsible for more than 2,500 workplace related deaths each year, according to data released by the Health and Safety Executive.

Lee Hodgkins, Director, Lilquest Asbestos Management Limited, said:

“Lilquest is a well-established brand in the market, and during the past three years we have enjoyed a significant period of growth and expansion, working with some of Britain’s best known businesses and brands throughout the UK. As older buildings make way for new developments, the removal of hazardous substances is a vital element of almost all construction projects which involve the upgrading of older buildings to ensure they meet modern standards, or alternatively as they make way for new developments."

“Despite being outlawed for over 30 years, the once common building material is prevalent in older buildings, with some reports suggesting it is present in half of all homes as well as being commonly found in public buildings including schools. We felt we had spotted a golden opportunity in the marketplace realised we needed to act quickly."

"Finance For Enterprise made the whole process of applying for funding a smooth and straightforward one and as a result of the lending we have secured, we have not only been able to launch our new dedicated Welsh division, but it will also play a key role in our future growth plans, with additional roles being created throughout the company, including our head office in Barnsley.”

Tim Daniels, Investment Manager, Finance for Enterprise, said:

“Timing was critical for Lilquest and after securing a number of new contracts in Wales, Lilquest recognised the importance of establishing an office within the region, in order to fuel future growth. Under Lee’s leadership Lilquest has enjoyed a significant period of growth and development and as a result of the new division, it has resulted in new jobs also being created at the company’s headquarters and the company is on track to realise its ambitions in becoming a market leader."

“As a delivery partner for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, we were able to develop a tailored lending package which enabled Lilquest to secure the amount of lending which was vital to their future growth plans."

Mark Wilcockson, Senior Manager, British Business Bank, said:

“The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund was developed to help successful SMEs based in the region to access the vital funds needed to realise their potential. Over the past three years, Lilquest has enjoyed a significant period of growth and expansion which has not only seen the creation of many jobs within the local economy, but has enabled the company to grow and develop its presence throughout the UK.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

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