A County Durham firm which designs and builds authentic high-end Finnish saunas is looking to steam ahead after winning a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Brothers Jake and Max Newport set up Finnmark Sauna four years ago with a view to help educate users on how to build and use a proper Finnish sauna properly and get the wide range of health benefits that their frequent use brings.

The brothers have already built up the firm’s annual turnover to around £1m – and now, having worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £50,000 investment, they are looking to further scale up their operations.

The business has recently moved into bigger premises on the DurhamGate development in Spennymoor and is also aiming to strengthen its supply chain by investigating milling its own raw materials in order to guarantee quality and reduce costs.

Finnmark currently employs 15 people, and is looking to create up to the same number of new jobs again as the business grows.

The company uses high-quality steam producing, Finnish-made heaters, while all the bench systems within its saunas are manufactured in the UK.

It also only uses techniques and materials which adhere to strict Finnish construction standards.

Jake Newport says: “The saunas that most of us have experienced at a gym or swimming pool are a million miles from the authentic Finnish sauna experience that we deliver to our clients and we’ve spent the last four years building an understanding of what this actually entails.

“A proper Finnish sauna needs to be made with specific high-quality materials, and must be properly insulated, ventilated and vapour-sealed to ensure it provides an authentic user experience.

“Many of our customers have used them on their travels and they want to be able to replicate the same experience at home, which we are one of very few UK firms that has the knowledge and experience required to be able to supply.

“We’ve found there’s been a real enthusiasm for the quality products that we’re providing and we’re confident that there are many more opportunities out there for us to build on the foundations we’ve laid.

“We had a lot of personal contact with the NEL team around our development plans and the insight they provided helped us enhance our business plan as the application process progressed.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Finnmark has already carved out a significant niche for its high-quality products and the ideas they put forward for the next stage of their development made a very compelling investment case.”

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

For further information on Finnmark Sauna, please visit www.finnmarksauna.com

For more information on NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.