Harsh economic headlines hide a ‘huge growth story’ for Gloucestershire

Beneath the national headlines about economic challenges there is a far more uplifting story to be told, in Gloucestershire ­at least – a story of ‘huge growth’ being driven by private capital, entrepreneurial spirit and professional expertise.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Private investors are watching Gloucestershire closely and willing to invest in its businesses, according to Jonathan Morley of Charles Russell Speechlys.

With a new prime minister in place, attention has turned to how the chancellor will square up to the rising inflation and save UK plc, but there is also a powerful story of growth that until now is nowhere to be heard.

A hint came last week when SoGlos reported on ALS Mechatronic’s growth, with the firm commenting it was ‘not alone’ – and we can now shed some light on the emerging factor helping drive Gloucestershire's economy like never before.

That is the fast-developing market delivering a new-style of private lending ­– far removed from the vision laid down by the likes of TV’s Dragon’s Den – which is allowing companies to achieve growth and retain control and which sees huge potential in Gloucestershire.

Jonathan Morley, a corporate finance lawyer at international law firm, Charles Russell Speechlys, with a longstanding Cheltenham presence, has been at the heart of making many such deals happen – and thinks as word spreads, especially in the growing cyber sector, many more businesses of all sizes will take advantage.

‘It is easy to focus on increasing prices and the rising cost of debt, but we have to remember there is a huge growth story here – and the whole tech sector especially in Gloucestershire is well-placed to take advantage of that. But the opportunities are across the sectors,’ said Morley.

‘There has been a shift in recent years away from more traditional funding towards a more diverse, flexible range of finance options.

‘Firms were once forced down a particular route where owners might have had to give up a share of the business; 10 or 15 years ago the only option might have seemed like their bank. Things have moved on.’

Charles Russell Speechlys, which has its head offices in London, was involved in Carmichael Holdings’ November 2021 acquisition of Staverton-based Future Advanced Manufacture, a deal allowing the new owner to continue to grow the engineering firm alongside former owner Craig Peterson.

In the cyber sector, county-based Synalogik, a recent Queen’s Award winners, raised £3 million from private investors early this year to fund growth.

‘In terms of the county’s economy, Gloucestershire is a pretty broad church; engineering; manufacturing; leisure; sport; hospitality, but tech is one of our key sectors,' said Morley.

‘The region is attracting talent that is necessary to develop these businesses and help create the innovation. It is an exciting to be a business owner in the tech sector in Gloucestershire.’

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