Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector is set to benefit from significant support in the coming months, according to speakers at today’s launch of the 2015 Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank.
With £1.5billion available to lend to businesses this year, Ulster Bank has said that it will be able to provide even more sustained support to food and drink companies and the wider agri-food sector.
Andy Mills, Regional Director of Business Banking, said: “The Balmoral Show is an important opportunity for us to speak to the industry face-to-face, to hear their concerns and demonstrate our commitment to supporting growth across the country.
“We’ve taken customer feedback on board, and created a dedicated food and drink proposition to support local companies. This means that we’re well positioned to support local firms seeking to export and expand in a sustainable way. Those operating in the sector are innovative and responsive to a changed global environment, dealing with customer preference and new markets – we’re a bank that can move with them.”
He continued: “We want to be the number one bank for customer service – that means having specific products and expertise to assist our customers, whatever stage of their growth they are at with their business. Whether it’s through commodity financing, trade credit, or helping firms fix their interest rate exposure to new markets, Ulster Bank is on hand to support creativity and talent in the sector.
“Northern Ireland’s food and drink businesses already export to over 60 countries, according to Invest NI, from powdered milk to the Far East, to specialist teas to Africa. Indeed, food and drink exports from Northern Ireland were worth over £1billion in 2014. At Ulster Bank we understand that there are a number of factors that point to 2015 being a more challenging year to maintain recent growth levels, but we are committed to playing an important role in supporting the sector.
“Ulster Bank is proud to have sponsored the Balmoral Show since 2009, as it offers a strong platform to show off one of Northern Ireland’s most adaptable and important industries.”
Andy Mills also commented on the ongoing strength of the Show: “The move to Balmoral Park has proved a significant success, providing a space for the Show to expand and allow an even wider range of exhibitors.”
Ulster Bank’s support package for the food and drink sector includes a range of tailored credit facilities:
_ Options for flexible loan repayments in recognition of the seasonal nature of the food and drink industry and the impact this can have on cash flow.
_ Companies just setting out can avail of the Food & Drink Start-Up Package, which includes two years transaction fee-free banking; free lodgements, Direct Debits and Standing Order payments and access to loans, deposit accounts and other banking services.
- Successfully growing your business brings additional working capital and potentially capital expenditure funding requirements, Ulster Bank Invoice Finance facilities improve cash flow, allowing companies to access finance based on their sales performance, from £100,000 to multi-million packages, which could be reinvested in growth.
- Dedicated finance for Funding Owner Occupied Premises, to enable the purchase, expansion or refinancing of premises.
- Access to funding from Lombard Asset Finance for the purpose of upgrading or purchasing equipment, machinery and vehicles
- For businesses looking to gain greater insights to their existing or potential customers, Ulster Bank offers the Consumer Insights Loan, covering areas such as the cost of consumer research, rebranding and the development of new products or brands.
Ulster Bank has recently launched a new resource to promote farm safety in schools. Young people aged 11-16 are being invited to submit ideas for a story illustrating the potential dangers on a farm and how to stay safe.