Bank of Ireland UK reports over £1 billion of business lending approvals in 2016

  • Bank of Ireland UK approved £1.06bn in new lending to Northern Ireland businesses in 2016
  • 33% increase year on year in new lending approvals in 2016
  • Growth took place across small, medium and large businesses

Tuesday 28th February, 2017: Bank of Ireland UK today announced it approved £1.06bn in new lending to Northern Ireland businesses in 2016, representing an increase of 33% on the previous year.

Commenting on the continued uplift in demand, Ian Sheppard, Regional Director NI, Bank of Ireland UK said the increase reflected the success of the bank’s business customers in acquiring customers, often in new markets while continuing to invest and plan for their long term future.

He said: “We welcome the sustained increase in activity and are delighted with the continued growth in lending approvals. We are particularly pleased to welcome new customers as it shows we have the people, the products, the services and the funds to provide local businesses with the broad range of support they need to grow.

“Growth has come from all segments in the past year which underlines the resilience of local businesses to not only navigate their way through uncertain times, but to tenaciously find new ways of adding value and growing their operations.

“Lending approvals to small business were up 22% year on year, and despite the headwinds, demand for Agri lending also increased.  Farmers and food producers, like many businesses, rely on strong working partnerships and our local branch network and local sector experts such as agri and commercial finance have played a vital role in building relationships that work for our customers.

One example of Bank of Ireland UK’s support for growth businesses in the agri sector is evident in the support it has provided to Grahams Bakery of Dromore, a family run firm that was established more than sixty years ago. The business approached the bank a little over twelve months ago as it sought an injection of working capital to enable the business’ expansion.

The bank saw the business’ potential and provided the funds. Since then, their headcount has grown from 35 to over 50 and with a further recruitment drive underway will exceed 60 in the next month. They have secured retail outlets in England for the first time, expanded further into the Scottish market and fulfilled export orders to countries as far away as Fiji and Mexico.

The support offered to the bakery included Bank of Ireland UK’s range of financial products and services starting with working capital solutions to help with cash flow and access to the expertise of its Global Markets team to help trade successfully in the global market place.

Lois Graham, Financial Director at Grahams Bakery said: “Chris Gibb, the bank’s Business Development Manager was very approachable, he saw our ambitious growth plans and supported us as we set out to deliver on our targets.

“He provided access to the local experts and funds which have allowed us to grow at the phenomenal rate that we have. The Global Markets team has also been invaluable in helping us to manage foreign exchange as we export into new markets.

“We enjoy a great relationship with the bank and, with its support, we are focusing on further expansion and growth through innovation and new markets both domestically and further afield. Our goal is to be one of the leading innovative bakeries in Ireland.”

Ian Sheppard concludes his remarks: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our business customers – small, medium and large – for their business and we would reiterate our commitment to supporting their ongoing investment for future growth.”

Looking ahead into 2017, he added: “There are challenging economic headwinds as we move forward into 2017, particularly in relation to Brexit and political uncertainty too. However, there are some positive indicators for 2017 including the confidence in the market and the increased business investment as evidenced by our figures.

“On balance, the outlook for 2017 is a positive one and as Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Bank we will continue to work hard to do all we can to support the growth ambitions of Northern Ireland businesses.”