A long-standing, Hull-based specialist engineering firm is moving into a new era with the backing of a six-figure investment from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
AFOS is a world leader in the development, supply, installation, commissioning and maintenance of high quality stainless steel equipment for the food and medical sectors, and has a range of customers in both markets right around the world which have helped it reach an annual turnover of around £3million.
AFOS, which employs 22 people and is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its foundation this year, was subject to a management buy-out towards the end of 2017, with chairman Mike Sutton selling a majority stake in the business to four members of the management team, who became co-directors.
As part of plans to continue to grow its global market share in both the food and medical sectors, and to widen the range of services it can offer, AFOS has worked with fund management firm FW Capital to secure a £250,000 NPIF investment.
AFOS began as a manufacturer of traditional fish smoking kilns, and still provides a range of such equipment today, although they are now equipped with state-of-the-art Siemens microprocessor controls.
Its food sector product range, which is recognised as providing the industry standard by the British Retail Consortium, has expanded to include defrosters, deglazers, dryers and brining lines, data from which can be accessed online by customers from anywhere in the world.
They are used across the UK and mainland Europe and as far afield as New Zealand, where discussions are currently ongoing with a major food sector firm on opportunities to enter the Chinese market together.
AFOS also has 35 years’ experience of supplying hospitals, medical & veterinary schools and laboratories with ‘down draught’ ventilation equipment which are used in pathology, mortuary and laboratory installation to ensure their environments are safe for use.
Its equipment can be found across the Middle East, Far East and North America, as well as closer to home, and it also operates a service arm for this side of the business to further enhance the revenues that can be generated from it.
Mike Sutton, chairman at AFOS, says: “AFOS has an excellent reputation in a range of niche markets, and a long-standing track record which demonstrates how we live up to it for customers around the world.
“Our focus is on continuing to grow our profitability through maximising the use of our state of the art process technologies and taking advantage of opportunities to build new partnerships and product offerings both at home and overseas.
“The commercially-minded FW Capital investment team quickly understood the business and our future ambitions for it, and were extremely supportive right through the investment application process.”
Keith Charlton, investment executive at FW Capital, adds: “AFOS has an impressive track record within its target markets and every opportunity to make further progress on many fronts in the future.
Phil Glover, Growth Hub Programme Manager for the Humber LEP, comments: “I am delighted to see yet another company benefit from capital made available through the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. It is particularly satisfying to see the Fund Managers help a long standing local firm such as AFOS extend their markets across the globe.”
“Their robust business plan and excellent management team offered us an excellent investment proposition and we believe the working capital we’re providing will see AFOS securing even greater commercial success.”
Operating from the British Business Bank’s Sheffield head office, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund provides a mix of debt and equity funding (£25,000 to £2m). It works alongside ten Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the combined authorities and Growth Hubs, as well as local accountants, fund managers and banks, to support Northern-based SMEs at all stages of their development.
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.
For more information about Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, please visit www.npif.co.uk.