A North East hazardous area inspection firm has won major contracts in the oil & gas and utilities sectors with the help of its latest investment from NEL Fund Managers.

Cenelec Standards Inspections Ltd (CSI) helps companies operating in potentially explosive onshore and offshore environments, such as oil rigs and refineries, distilleries and chemical plants, to meet their extensive health and safety statutory obligations.

The Cramlington-headquartered firm has brought in a £250,000 investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Supported by the European Regional Development Fund to give it supporting working capital to take on new work.

CSI is a specialist firm covering electrical and mechanical hazardous area inspections, repairs and installations, and is now providing services to new client National Grid, which has multi compressor sites around the UK, while it has also developed new business with United Utilities’ sites along the western side of the country.

It’s the fourth time that NEL has invested in CSI over the last seven years, with previous capital being used to support the development of a high quality CompEx training centre in Newcastle, whilst also taking advantage of a range of commercial opportunities around the world.

Founded in 1986, CSI has around 80 personnel operating in variable countries, and has increased its turnover by 25% over the last year to take it up to the £5m mark.

Electrical, instrument and mechanical inspections are carried out by CSI’s expert team using specialist hand-held equipment which enables compliance requirements to be quickly identified, reported and addressed via an online portal and any corrective actions required at any given site to be highlighted on the day of inspection.

As well as National Grid and United Utilities, CSI already provide services to a wide range of blue chip companies, including Shell, BP, RWE, Centrica, ConocoPhillips, Diageo and Uniper, and manages their clients’ compliance requirements from its regional headquarters.

It has been increasing its presence in its native North East by adding the likes of Aesica, Akzo Nobel, Merck Sharp & Dhome and Fine Organics to its client portfolio, and is also extending its training provision, with staff travelling to deliver senior management courses in locations around the globe.

Managing director Jonathan Gibson says: “The company has seen rapid expansion in client base and variable industry over the last few years, but the biggest challenge in managing business growth is operational cash flow that comes from an increased workforce, associated cost and challenging commercial times and terms.

“My experience with NEL Fund Managers is a positive one and via a fairly rigorous process of due diligence, I was delighted that they chose to support our ambitious work projects and growth plans once again.

“There is a clear trend from our clients to provide long-term multi-year framework agreements, ensuring solid foundations to develop business relations, but it is imperative that your business also has the capability to commercially cope with an increasing debtor book in line with your profit and loss projections and growth planning.”

Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “CSI have always made extremely good use of the investments we’ve provided, and provide an excellent example of how to use this sort of capital at different stages of a business’s development.

“Enabling CSI to take on these new contracts is a great example of the impact that our investments can make on the ambitious North East businesses with which we work.”

The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

NEL Fund Managers is actively looking for potential investees from Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland to put their investment ideas forward.

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.