Client profile: Oceans ESU

Oceans ESU initially turned to pension-led funding to develop a new sales and marketing strategy to grow its business. Now, with the flexibility this funding offers, the company has taken a second round of finance that has allowed it to go after new contracts around the world and start recruitment of new employees.

Oceans was established in 1992 by Lucian Gill, a leading expert on reed beds and, in particular, the use of reeds to clean polluted water caused by chemical contamination. The reed beds are also good for wildlife and often significantly easier to operate and maintain – and thus cheaper – than equivalent mechanical systems. Clients include major oil companies, such as Shell and BP, with projects around the world.

Business flourished until 2012, when the war between North and South Sudan saw Oceans lose its entire North Sudan operation and remove its team from the country because of safety concerns.

Until that point Oceans had been banking with a major high street bank, but the combination of the political situation and a new bank manager meant development funding became extremely difficult.

Company Director, Michelle Gill explains: “We moved banks and although they were extremely supportive, we had no history with the new bank. We needed to fund the development of the business to be able to take on new projects both in the UK and overseas. We wanted to provide stability for the future development of the company and to rely on our own funds rather than relying on the banks.”

Contact from pensionledfunding.com – part of Clifton Asset Management – came at just the right time. “We were intrigued,” says Michelle. “Pension-led funding seemed to be a much better type of finance for businesses generally and especially those that banks struggle to understand. It clearly gives a business greater security.

“Certainly we expect co-operation from our bank and if you have a good relationship that’s fine, but you can’t expect the bank to be there to cover every gap. We had to take responsibility ourselves.”

Working closely with Oceans’ bank, pensionledfunding.com established a pension scheme for Oceans’ directors that allowed them to put funding into the business. They then used the Intellectual Property (IP) held within the organisation to arrange a second batch of funding from the pension scheme.The money has been put to good use, with development of a new sales and marketing strategy that has allowed the team to go after new contracts around the world.

Within five years, Oceans ESU aims to significantly increase the number of working reed beds in the UK, as well as looking further afield at the global oil industry.

“We have been able to use our African experience to move operations into South Sudan and business is looking good there. Last year was definitely a testing year for us, but now I’m confident that we can look forward and really grow the business,” says Michelle.

Business

Oceans was established in 1992 by Lucian Gill, a leading expert on using reed beds to clean polluted water caused by chemical contamination.

Funding needs

Business was doing well until 2012 when war in Sudan caused Oceans to pull out of its contracts there. The company was looking to develop but banks were unable to help.

Result

Directors’ pensions were used to provide initial funding and the company’s intellectual property was used to arrange a second lot of funding from the pension scheme.

Going Forward

The money has been used to develop a new sales and marketing strategy. Within five years Oceans ESU aims to significantly increase the number of working reed beds in the UK and is looking further afield at the global oil industry.

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