A Welsh giftware company will be the first to access the Development Bank of Wales’s new Green Business Loan Scheme.
Swansea-based Something Different Wholesale received a £1.2m loan from the scheme, which was set up by the Development Bank and the Welsh Government to help businesses in Wales reduce their carbon footprint, supporting the nation’s journey to become net zero by 2050.
The business will use the investment provided to install 2,200 new solar panels on its 158,000 square foot warehouses at the Enterprise Park on Upper Fforest Way, Swansea. The new solar energy systems will help Something Different cut its energy bills while meeting increasing demand more sustainably and allow it to sell surplus energy back to the market. The installation of the new panels follows an upgrade of the company’s lighting to LED lights in 2021.
Established in 1999, the company is one of the UK’s leading giftware suppliers and distributes to retailers worldwide. Jane Wallace-Jones, CEO of Something Different, joined the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme in 2015, working with a relationship manager to navigate changes in the business during a period of rapid growth. She later joined the programme board to provide her insights and develop the service.
It saw strong growth during the Covid-19 pandemic, with its sales reaching £12.5m at the end of the 2020/21 financial year. They also recently introduced an improved end-to-end service for smaller clients, along with next-day deliveries and online access to livestock feeds.
Jane Wallace-Jones, founder, and CEO of Something Different, said: “We are delighted to be leading the way towards a sustainable future for Wales. We are committed to supporting the social, economic, and environmental wellbeing of our community.
“The support from the Development Bank of Wales has allowed us to achieve our first milestone on the journey as we continuously look for ways to build a greener future.”
Giles Thorley, Chief Executive of the Development Bank of Wales, said: “We are delighted to have supported Something Different Wholesale in executing a substantial sustainability energy project with the assistance of our Green Business Loan Scheme.
“This is the latest in a series of investments we’ve made into Something Different, and we’ve been very pleased to see their international gift wholesale business flourish. We will continue to support them on their growth journey with an environmental responsibility..”
He added: “The scheme is there to help SMEs such as Something Different who see the value in reducing their carbon footprint. The recent energy price spikes and other inflationary pressures has highlighted the further benefit of reducing the impact of these price rises by investing in schemes to reduce energy consumption or to generate their own energy on-site. We want more businesses to take advantage of the Green Business Loan Scheme and get the support they need to decarbonise their operations.
“Thanks to this project, Something Different will both produce enough energy for their Swansea site and generate a return on energy sold back into the market, while taking further steps to lessen the energy use of their business more broadly.”
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“I’m delighted to see this home-grown business get the support it needs from the Welsh Government and Development Bank of Wales to innovate and adapt to the climate emergency.
“Tackling climate change is a priority for the Welsh Government. That’s why we’ve set ambitious plans for Wales to become net zero by 2050.
“Businesses like Something Different are a crucial part of our net zero ambition, so we’re proud to work with the Development Bank in supporting Welsh businesses on their decarbonisation journey.
“We want to ensure businesses have the support needed to make the improvements they want and need to make, through Green Business Loans and practical advice from our Business Wales service.
“I’d encourage any businesses interested in the new scheme to contact the Development Bank for more information.”
The Green Business Loan Scheme supports businesses to invest in renewable technology, improve the fabric of their premises, upgrade systems to reduce energy use and reduce waste. As well as providing loans, the scheme also allows businesses to access advice on decarbonisation.