British Business Bank launches new Active ECF to scale consumer, leisure and retail businesses

Minister for small business announces new £40m British Business Bank-backed enterprise capital fund for scaleup businesses.

The recently appointed new Small Business Minister, Margot James, last week announced the establishment of the British Business Bank‘s 21st Enterprise Capital Fund, to be run by Active PE.

The announcement came during the minister’s visit to the ScaleUp Institute’s Manchester conference, supported by Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses and Innovate UK, and aimed at helping Local Enterprise Partnerships, cities and growth hubs deliver economic growth in their local areas.

Small Business Minster, Margot James, said: “Small businesses are at the heart of our economy and the whole country benefits when they grow and create jobs for people.

“The government-owned British Business Bank is helping more than 48,000 businesses with over £3.1bn of support, much of it going to those with high-growth potential.”

Active is a leading UK-based growth capital fund. They are sector specialists, focusing exclusively on consumer, leisure and retail businesses – where they have deep expertise and know-how. Active has a strong track record of partnering with entrepreneurs building both emerging and established brands. Current and past investments include the likes of Rapha, Soho House, LEON Restaurants, Finisterre and Evans Cycles.

Active invests where there is potential for rapid growth, and the new Active ECF will focus on early-stage founder-led businesses. The British Business Bank will provide £24m of the fund’s £40m investment capacity.

Keith Morgan, British Business Bank CEO, said: “This important new fund will enable more UK smaller businesses to get the investment and support they need to scale up successfully.

“Our Enterprise Capital Funds are a significant part of the UK’s early stage venture capital ecosystem, and the establishment of the new Active ECF brings the programme’s total investment capability to over £730m.”

Spencer Skinner, Active PE co-founder, added: “We’re excited to partner with the British Business Bank to help more entrepreneurs build lasting consumer businesses and brands. We will continue to invest in the consumer economy with Active ECF – where we can genuinely provide insight and value – and in businesses generating exceptional consumer excitement.”

Irene Graham, CEO of the ScaleUp Institute, said: “Getting the right mix of finance is essential‚Äé to scaling businesses, alongside the access to talent, markets and expertise that such capital can bring. The public and private sector working together can make a huge difference to the resources available to our scaling businesses enabling such businesses to grow to even greater heights. We welcome the targeting of this new fund to such growth businesses and the opportunities it brings.”

British Business Bank Enterprise Capital Funds (ECFs) are managed by experienced investors from a variety of backgrounds, including teams from the venture capital industry as well as serial entrepreneurs with a history of success in building early stage UK companies.

They are commercially-focused funds which bring together private and public money to make equity investments in high growth businesses.