Square One Utilities founder highlights impact of development capital on business’s growth

The founder of an award-winning North East energy consultancy that has just been acquired by an AIM-listed industry peer has praised the impact that investment capital had on helping it realise its growth potential.

Square One Utilities worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers in 2007 to bring a six-figure investment into the South Tyneside-headquartered business.

Square One used the capital to support a move into bigger offices at the Quadrus Centre in Boldon, as well as to implement new IT systems and improve its utility management service.

Since then, it was enjoyed consistent growth, securing a range of high profile regional and national customers, and won the Best Customer Service category at the prestigious 2018 Energy Live Consultancy Awards.

As part of securing the long-term future of the business, Square One engaged RG Corporate Finance to identify a strategic partner which could support its growth – and in August 2018, it was acquired by Inspired Energy plc, the parent company to 16 subsidiaries across the UK which provide energy consultancy services.

Established in 2004, Square One Utilities works with businesses to procure and manage utility services by helping customers both control costs and reduce energy usage.

Michael Harkus, who set up Square One alongside business partner Karen Bays, says:  “The energy market has evolved massively over the last 14 years and we’ve succeeded by consistently providing customers with the insight, solutions and savings they need to make their energy usage as cost-effective and efficient as possible.

“The NEL team quickly understood what we were looking to do and saw how our business plan would help us realise these objectives.

“Their confidence in our ambitions made a major difference to the speed at which were able to move forward, and played a significant role in helping us build and sustain the commercial momentum that has carried us forward to today.

“As part of Inspired Energy plc, we can better deliver upon our ambitions to grow the business and continue to deliver the best level of service to our customers.”

David Thomas, investment director at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Square One came to us with a strong business plan in a fast-changing market and it’s fantastic to see how much the company has achieved over the last decade.

“Getting access to investment capital can make a huge difference to the speed and breadth of growth that businesses can achieve, and we’ve worked with dozens of North East firms that have gone on to national and international success as a result of having the right sort of backing at the right time.”

Carl Swansbury, Partner at RG Corporate Finance, says: “Michael and Karen have built a strong business with excellent client relationships, which have flourished through a shared commitment to controlling energy costs, and this will continue as the business grows as part of Inspired Energy plc.”

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.

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