Unlocking growth by tapping into hidden assets

Ian Flaxman, Managing director, Working Capital Solutions

The UK is currently the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world, according to the United Nations. 

Contrary to public perception, where a survey by the manufacturers’ organisation the EEF found the public think the UK sector is 56th in the world, industry is thriving.    

If current growth trends continue, the UK will become the fifth largest manufacturing nation in the world by 2021, according to the EEF.  

For the sector to continue to thrive it needs access to much-needed finance. 

Our new research reveals that too many firms are not making as much of their hidden assets as they could.  This potentially creates a working capital squeeze, limiting growth.   

Unlocking these hidden assets would help the UK’s manufacturers to trade, grow and create jobs.

Tapping into hidden assets

Wyelands Bank analysis of 23,000 UK mid-sized manufacturers shows that they have up to £252 billion in assets that they could use to access working capital to help them grow.

It shows that the average business in this bracket has more than £10 million of potential working capital tied up in assets that could be used to raise finance.  Typically, this amounts to 25% of turnover.

Wyelands Bank used government data provided by businesses to understand the total stock and debtor assets available to these businesses.  The research assesses the working capital potential. 

Quite often large businesses need less financing because they have more leverage with their customers.  Mid-sized businesses, however, can struggle for this reason.

Freeing up these potential working capital assets can help provide the finance that businesses need to fulfil new orders and grow. 

The research looked at businesses turning over £10 million to £300 million across the manufacturing supply chain. 

This included tier three businesses, or raw material suppliers, and tier two businesses, or manufacturers.  It also included tier one businesses, or distributors, and original equipment manufacturers.

Different stages in the supply chain


Turning over £10-300 million



Tier 3

Tier 2

Tier 1

Original equipment manufacturers




Companies that produce raw, or close to raw materials like textiles, metals and plastics


Companies that produce component parts that are not sold directly to the OEM, but to Tier 1 companies, who package the inputs for ultimate sale to the OEM

Companies that supply parts or systems directly to OEMs


Design, manufacture and market the end product, sourcing parts from suppliers/distributors to assemble the final product


Average turnover (thousands)





Average debtors (thousands)





Average stock (thousands)





Average potential assets (thousands)





The analysis reveals that original equipment manufacturers have the highest proportion of working capital assets compared to turnover at 28% on average. 

Manufacturers have the second highest proportion compared to turnover at 26% on average.  Distributors are third with 25% on average.  Raw materials suppliers have the lowest proportion of working capital assets compared to turnover at 24% on average.  

The importance of getting to know the business

Many businesses find that accessing capital is difficult or complex. 

However, there are often simple ways to fund growth.  It starts with the funder having a good understanding of the manufacturing firm and its assets.

For instance, at Wyelands Bank we get to know our customers and have the flexibility to tailor the right solutions for their business.

This might mean manufacturers raising money against the invoices they have issued, or against stock that they hold. 

Or these businesses might be able to raise finance against the plant and machinery they have or are looking to get.

Our approach is innovative yet simple.  We give customers direct access to decision makers.

By understanding what a firm is trying to do, we help identify how it can raise finance to bring its plans to life now and in the future.

Business finance to trade and grow

As our research shows, too many manufacturers are not making as much of their hidden assets as they could.

But, by unlocking these assets and supporting firms with the business finance they need, we can help the UK’s manufacturers to trade, grow and create jobs.

In doing so, we might yet see the UK move from the world’s ninth largest manufacturer to the fifth. 

Why Wyelands Bank

We understand that freeing up working capital is a major challenge for many businesses, and we offer a range of flexible services to help.

Our vision is to develop partnerships that provide opportunities to grow together, by providing access to finance, tailored to each client.


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