Our 480 client firms in “good health” says NatWest South Yorkshire chief

Craig Gray, NatWest director of commercial banking in South Yorkshire
Craig Gray, NatWest director of commercial banking in South Yorkshire

All 480 small and medium- sized clients of NatWest in South Yorkshire are in “good health” a top banker has revealed.

Craig Gray, director of commercial banking in South Yorkshire, said he had no short-term concerns about the sustainability of any of them. And he paid tribute to their “agility, durability and adaptability”.

Mr Gray’s 15-strong department, based at 1 St Paul’s in Sheffield city centre, looks after companies with a turnover between £2 million and £30m.

He said: “We are seeing significant growth in demand for lending to support investment, especially in bricks and mortar and equipment.

“There is also quite an appetite for growth through acquisition, which is largely a sign of confidence. There is some reticence as we head toward the EU referendum on June 23, but by the same token there are lot of people who are carrying on regardless.”

Even those hit by a downturn were refusing to be bowed and were branching out into new markets, he added.

“We have a steel firm that is losing money but it is not reducing staff and is looking at niche markets to maintain its sustainability. As difficult as they are finding it, they are reacting. That’s when good businesses shine. Despite the headwinds in oil and gas, steel and manufacturing, South Yorkshire SMEs are demonstrating agility, durability and adaptability.”

NatWest is believed to have the biggest share of the SME market in South Yorkshire.

Mr Gray said he was anticipating “10 per cent plus” growth in lending this year.