Wilkinson Star becomes the 3rd investment by The GMLF

The Greater Manchester Loan Fund (GMLF), which is managed by Maven, has made a £400,000 investment in Wilkinson Star Limited (Wilkinson).

The £20 million Fund was established by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities in June 2013. With SMEs continuing to struggle to raise finance as a result of tighter lending criteria, the GMLF was set up to provide flexible funding solutions for promising businesses, helping to encourage growth while creating and safeguarding jobs.

Maven, which manages similar funds on behalf of the UK and Scottish Governments, was appointed as manager of the GMLF in June 2013 and will provide loans ranging from £100,000 to £500,000 to eligible companies in the Greater Manchester area, with the potential to provide follow-on funding up to £750,000.

Wilkinson is a leading distributor of welding equipment, air compressors and power generators. Established in 1979 to provide welding machine repair services to local trade the business quickly developed into selling and distributing new machines on behalf of international manufacturers. Wilkinson Star now has exclusive UK supply agreements in place with some of the industry’s leading brands and exports to over 60 countries worldwide.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, the Salford based business has been selling its range of high quality and price competitive products into a range of markets including manufacturing, automotive, oil & gas, infrastructure and construction. The demand for Wilkinson’s products is increasing as the UK economy starts to recover and major infrastructure projects start to roll out, including the construction of new nuclear power stations and rail programmes such as HS2 and Crossrail.

Wilkinson has looked to diversify its product offering in recent years by providing its own branded welding equipment under the name of ‘Xcalibur’ and has recently successfully agreed a sole distribution agreement with a major Chinese manufacturer Jasic Technology, which will allow the business to compete more aggressively in all sectors of the market.
The funding from the GMLF will provide working capital to fund this new initiative and it is projected that the increase of sales from the new Jasic products will lead to the creation of 10 new positions within the business.

John Wilkinson, Chairman at Wilkinson Star said: “Our company was approached by a major manufacturer in the Far East to partner exclusively with them in the UK and Eire for the distribution and service of a very high quality competitive equipment range. We saw this as a fantastic opportunity, but one which would require further working capital to unlock. Thanks to the £400,000 investment from the GMLF we are in an excellent position to strengthen and complement our existing product offering with high class equipment from the most futuristic manufacturing facility worldwide.”

Andy Thomas, Investment Director at Maven added: “Wilkinson Star is one of the largest independent welding distributors in the country. They are an innovative team that are always looking for opportunities to enhance their offering. Our funding will enable them to launch a new and highly competitive brand of welding equipment into the UK market which will help the company to grow over the coming years.”

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