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28 January 2013

PlaceFirst achieves rapid growth following The North West Fund investment

"The funding and staff expansion are already helping to position PlaceFirst as one of Manchester's most innovative businesses"


Founder and managing director of PlaceFirst, David Smith-Milne

PlaceFirst, the innovative energy and regeneration business, has achieved significant growth in turnover with the support of equity investment and loan facilities from The North West Fund for Energy & Environmental, managed by CT Investment Partners.

PlaceFirst, based in Didsbury, Manchester, was formed in 2009 as a consultancy firm in the physical housing regeneration and renewable energy sectors. It received investment from The North West Fund for Energy & Environmental in July 2012.

The business has evolved to a point where it now invests alongside its traditional clients, including landlords in the social housing sector. It was among the first private businesses in England to finance and install large-scale solar PV projects across social housing.

Projects are typically either managing the retrofitting of renewable energy technologies on social housing or creating private-public sector partnerships with local authorities and registered providers of housing in order to regenerate empty housing with energy efficient technologies.

The company is currently involved in the remodelling of 200 homes at Woodnook in Accrington, Lancashire, through a joint venture with Twin Valley Homes, and in partnership with the local authority Hyndburn Borough Council. The project will see a range of energy efficiency and renewable measures installed to create new socially affordable housing for the area.

Founder and managing director David Smith-Milne, who formed the business in 2009 following a management buy-out from Tribal Group plc, has used the funding to develop an executive team and to fund the recruitment of a number of new roles in the North West.

PlaceFirst is currently supported by an experienced senior management team with a background in project finance and urban regeneration and is in the process of recruiting a chairman and non-executive directors to the board.

Michael Bakewell, investment manager at CT Investment Partners was appointed as a non-executive director earlier this year.

David Smith-Milne said: "We would not have been able to grow the business in such a short space of time without the excellent support of The North West Fund and CT Investment Partners. Through close collaboration with The Fund, we have created a structured debt and equity investment that is aligned to the growth requirements of the business. 

"The investment managers at The Fund took the time to properly understand our business to create a bespoke financial instrument that is now helping to drive the growth of our innovative products and services in the energy and housing sectors. This growth created the need for additional staff with two new starters having joined recently and plans in place to seek another two recruits in the near future.  

"The funding and staff expansion are already helping to position PlaceFirst as one of Manchester's most innovative businesses tackling fuel poverty and housing regeneration across the UK."Mike Bakewell said: "PlaceFirst aim to build the business into a leading consultancy and developer of socially affordable housing. The firm is capitalising on the opportunities in the energy efficiency and regeneration market in socially affordable housing, so we expect to see positive turnover figures over the next few years."


For more information about how you may be able to access funding for your energy business please visit http://www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk/funds/energy-environmental

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