Bank of Ireland's £1 billion lending to north's businesses in 2016

Ian Sheppard, regional director NI Bank of Ireland UK, Lois Graham, financial director at Grahams Bakery and Chris Gibb, business development manager, Bank of Ireland UK

BANK of Ireland UK says it approved more than £1 billion in new lending to Northern Ireland businesses in 2016, representing an increase of 33 per cent on the previous year.

In particular, lending approvals to small businesses were up 22 per cent year-on-year while demand for agri-lending also increased.

It highlighted its support for Graham's Bakery of Dromore, a family run firm that was established more than sixty years ago.

The business approached the bank a little over 12 months ago as it sought an injection of working capital to enable the business's expansion.

Since then, Graham's workforce has grown from 35 to more than 50 and with a further recruitment drive under way will exceed 60 in the next month.

Graham's have secured retail outlets in England for the first time, expanded further into the Scottish market and fulfilled export orders to countries as far away as Fiji and Mexico.

Ian Sheppard, the Bank of Ireland's regional director for the north, said the increase reflected the success of the bank's business customers in acquiring customers.

"We are particularly pleased to welcome new customers as it shows we have the people, the products, the services and the funds to provide local businesses with the broad range of support they need to grow," he said.

"Growth has come from all segments in the past year which underlines the resilience of local businesses to not only navigate their way through uncertain times, but to tenaciously find new ways of adding value and growing their operations."

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: