Banbury-based Stewart Group (“Stewart”), the British manufacturer and distributor of gardening products, catering supplies, homewares and bespoke technical solutions, is now set for significant expansion and growth following a £11 million funding deal with Santander Corporate & Commercial. Stewart was advised throughout the deal by Leamington Spa-based law firm Wright Hassall.

Stewart’s key business channels are garden centres, DIY outlets, major retailers and trade, the latter encompassing housewares, catering and technical solutions. The firm reported a 25% growth in business in the 2014 financial year and, having secured the £11 million in funding from Santander Corporate & Commercial, plans are now in place to support the company in further strengthening its brand leader position by driving growth via additional manufacturing capacity, and launching a strong pipeline of new product introductions.

Market share gains have been achieved through the use of category management techniques, which have allowed Stewart to be present in over 1,600 outlets across the UK and Eire. These include DIY outlets such as Homebase, Wilkinson and B&Q and garden centres such as Dobbies and Klondyke/Strikes, Wyevale and over 600 independent garden centres. Stewart manufactures 95% of its products within the UK and is proud to be a strong contributor to both the local Banbury economy and playing its part in the resurgence of UK-based manufacturing companies.

Established in 1945, Stewart is now in its third year at its state-of-the art Banbury manufacturing facility which followed a £15 million investor buyout supported by ECI Partners in 2012-13. Stewart relocated from its original Croydon, South London location to the purpose-equipped, 178,000 sq. ft. production facility, and this new base has been the key to supporting the recent growth of the business. Significantly, the Banbury facility has room for further expansion, with the potential to doubling output if needed.

Andy Burns, Managing Director, Stewart Group, said: “Stewart is a true UK manufacturing success story and we have strong aspirations for the future. We have a robust growth strategy in place, and the funding and support from Santander and Wright Hassall will be instrumental in helping us implement this comprehensive plan across our core sectors.”

Steve Bateman, Relationship Director, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “We’re delighted to be working with such a well-known and high profile brand such as Stewart. The company’s facility in Banbury is one of the largest and most efficient plants in Europe, and it is clear that the firm’s products are winning over an increasing number of clients.”

Christopher Jones, Banking and Finance Senior Associate, Wright Hassall, said: “We’re pleased to be supporting a progressive company in Stewart in its expansion plans. Stewart has built a strong reputation as a leading player in the gardening, home and professional catering markets and is well placed to continue its expansion and growth following the completion of this deal. The deal also shows the great appetite that many banks, including Santander, have to provide financing to British companies as the economy continues to recover from the downturn of recent years.”

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