CBI and BDO Northern Ireland struck the right chord with aspiring businesses with a financial support workshop at the Merchant Hotel, Belfast. The event was designed to assist small and mid-sized companies to identify and engage with new sources of financial support to aid growth plans. Pictured are Catherine Roy, Director BDO NI, David Ausdahl II, Lowden Guitars; and Angela McGowan, CBI.

ACCESS to alternative financial structures can be the key that unlocks sustainable growth and profit, aspiring businesses were told at a special SME workshop in Belfast today (Thursday).

Hosted by CBI with support from BDO Northern Ireland, the ‘Funding for Sustainable Growth’ event is designed to assist small and mid-sized companies to identify and engage with new sources of financial support to aid growth plans.

The local businesses that attended the seminar heard from CBI’s Financial Services expert Chris Wilford and from Downpatrick-based Lowden Guitars which produces and exports handcrafted instruments throughout Europe, North America, Canada, Australia and the Far East. In 2013, the company received financial support from the Growth Loan Fund and now employs 29 highly skilled workers.

Speaking at the event, Angela McGowan, CBI Director said:

“SME businesses cannot fulfil their growth aspirations without access to finance. Through engagement with the Business Growth Fund and others, we have been able to highlight to local businesses the increasing role that financial service companies play in helping them to deliver growth.

 “There is no doubt that Brexit related uncertainty is impacting upon firm’s investment decisions across Northern Ireland; but simultaneously companies are being supported by strong global demand and low interest rates.

“The UK government is determined that Brexit will not crowd out industry’s competitiveness and ability to grow.  In that regard it is taking the ‘scale-up’ challenge very seriously and has introduced a number of measures in response to the Patient Capital Review and the Industrial Strategy.”

Nigel Harra, Senior Partner at BDO Northern Ireland said:

“BDO Northern Ireland have worked with George Lowden Guitars since early 2015. It has been exciting to be advisors to this highly skilled company with an exponential growth trajectory as they leveraged off their additional sources of finance.

“The right financing structure meant the company could focus on cutting-edge techniques, R&D, growing the number of jobs, and this enabled an increased volume of production to meet growing demand.

“The business has doubled in size in the relatively short time we have worked together and has demonstrated potential for further growth and continued success.”

David Ausdahl II, Managing Director of Lowden Guitars, outlined the company’s growth journey and said:

Nearly 45 years ago George Lowden designed the first Lowden Guitar.  Over the last six years in particular, in response to the ever-rising global demand, financing for sustainable growth has enabled us to progress in designing the business to be as good as the guitars themselves.  Alternative sources of finance have helped us to reinvest in the business for legacy, expand our production premises, R&D new processes, and launch new designs.

Recent highlights have included the creation of our 20,000th guitar in 2016, the Wee Lowden small body guitar, and this year the launch of the GL-10 Lowden Electric.  Just as it takes a whole team to make our guitars, we are grateful for the role that teamwork has played in the sustainable growth of the business.”

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