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Furniture maker secures funding to boost exports

A Scottish furniture ­manufacturer has secured its first bank funding in more than five years as it looks to drive harder into export markets and move to its own premises.

DEAL ON THE TABLE: Derek Weir, left, from Bank of Scotland, and Aquapac boss Stephen Connachan.Picture: Iain McLean
DEAL ON THE TABLE: Derek Weir, left, from Bank of Scotland, and Aquapac boss Stephen Connachan.Picture: Iain McLean

Aquapac, which employs 26 people in Glasgow, has agreed a £325,000 trade finance facility with Bank of Scotland, after being unable to access any bank financing after funding from Clydesdale lapsed in 2008.

Stephen Connachan, managing director, said: "Aquapac has been lucky enough to have weathered the economic downturn and the company appreciates the position it is currently in. It is important to us that we continue to build on our market strength in this coming year and our trade finance facility with Bank of ­Scotland will provide the means we need to do this."

Aquapac makes timber panels and a variety of wooden products, notably flat pack aquariums and vivariums. It is a major UK supplier and exports to New Zealand, North America, Australia, Germany and France. Turnover should hit £2.5 million this year.

Mr Connachan said the company has received valuable support from Scottish Enterprise, the DSL Loan Fund, West of Scotland Loan Fund, UK Steel Enterprise and Glasgow council.

However, he added: "Banks haven't been very supportive. We had decided to invest significantly in machinery for the company and set up a fund for capital investment and also to give us some working capital from 2007-08, and the last part of our funding came into play in August 2008.

"That left us a in a bit of a predicament, and in the last five years the local enterprise companies have helped us quite a bit."

He went on: "A bank is now coming back and looking at the business a bit differently and saying how can we fund you, previously it was through factoring where we had to get the materials, make the goods and sell the goods first, now Bank of Scotland has offered front-end funding to support purchases upfront."

Mr Connachan said the firm had developed its specialist focus through his father's involvement in the pet industry. It has diversified into products such as point of sale display stands, kitchens and contracted bedroom furniture.

He added: "We have been ­renting for 17 years, the next stage is our own premises and we are looking in Glasgow. I hope to relocate Aquapac to a larger premises within the next two years, reflecting the company's growth and our ambitions to develop our international relationships."

Bank of Scotland relationship manager Derek Weir and international business manager Alistair McMillan arranged the facility.

Mr Weir said: "The resilience of the manufacturing sector has proven to be a key factor in restoring confidence in the overall economy. Bank of Scotland recognises the vital importance that exporting businesses like Aquapac play in furthering economic recovery and we strive to ensure that they are given the support they need to prosper, both within the UK, and on a global plane."

Mr Weir added the bank could also offer "the industry insight and expertise that growing businesses need to capitalise on an increasingly buoyant market".

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