The Dartmoor Inn – FOLK2FOLK helps local chefs grow their new business

FOLK2FOLK

Having worked together for 20 years, business partners Philip and Andrew have earned and grown their reputations through their time at the Dartmoor Inn, having turned it into a well-respected gastro-pub over the years, mainly thanks to Andrew and Philip’s cooking and making the Inn a great place to stay, eat or just pop in for a pint after a walk on the moor.

In 2014, Philip decided to go into a business partnership with Andrew and create their own catering business as the opportunity to buy the Inn together became an option for them. The business plan was to run and expand the Inn and additionally set up the Outside Inn to grow their catering business to serve private functions across Cornwall and Devon. The lads borrowed £300k which was used to buy the property with some of the funds going towards a refurb to breathe some fresh life into the Inn, including updates to the guest and dining rooms.

Owners of Dartmoor Inn in Devon

How did FOLK2FOLK help?

Philip was introduced to Folk2Folk by one his suppliers, Philip Warren, whom he had used for 40 years. After meeting with Folk2Folk to run through the business plan and discuss the security (property) in question, Philip says he was given a decision in a matter of days and the finance was in place within a month to jointly buy the Dartmoor Inn.

“Without Folk2Folk saying yes to our business, I wouldn’t want to think where we would be now without the loan. The banks wouldn’t even entertain us as a new business despite our previous experience of working together for close to 20 years. Getting the yes from Folk2Folk was a lifesaver for our business as we were really happy to fill a finance gap that allowed us to build, grow and invest in both our pub and catering business,” Philip Burgess, Dartmoor Inn co-owner.

The growth in the Outside Inn catering business has enabled Philip and Andrew to employ a head chef at the Inn, meaning Andrew can set more time aside to create and develop menus for the catering side of the business.

“Dealing with Folk2Folk was a refreshing experience as they believed in our plans and we are now achieving what we set out to do and more. The initial pub to catering ratio was 80:20 but now revenues have increased significantly and are more like 50:50. We expect the catering business over time to be the main source of revenue as we expect to reach £600k this year as combined total.”

Outside cuisine at Dartmoor Inn

Philip decided that a flexible loan with interest only repayments suited the business at the time for its flexibility. Philip and Andrew want to maintain ownership of the Inn long-term, so their plan is to refinance the loan sometime in the future. This will allow them to repay the capital as the business grows when it suits them.

With the business driving forward, both Philip and Andrew are focused on making the Dartmoor Inn a destination pub for tourists and locals, allowing it to reach its full potential for serving amazing food, at the same time increasing awareness of the catering business to push boundaries in delivering outstanding creative menus for their clients.

Dartmoor Inn – www.dartmoorinn.com

James Yeo – Opens London showroom thanks to Folk2Folk loan

FOLK2FOLK

James started work milking cows at the age of fourteen when he left school but by the time he was seventeen, he decided that he didn’t want to work on a farm for the rest of his professional life. So James went back to college and studied woodwork. He then worked as an apprentice to Sawle and Vaughen cabinet makers. In time the owner retired and he took on his business with another partner. After a few years, his partner bought James out.

After 12 months of working for another cabinet maker in London James decided to rent a workshop in Devon and started designing and manufacturing kitchens. He was working in London for a client whose builder was impressed by his work and suggested that he find a showroom in Richmond.

James needed to borrow money to rent the showroom and found that the banks wouldn’t help because it was a new business venture. It was an extremely frustrating period for James until he came across Folk2folk.

James said, “We knew a few people locally who had used Folk2Folk and spoke highly of them. So we contacted them to see if they could help finance our showroom in Richmond. We found them extremely efficient and easy to deal with. After a straightforward application and decision process, the money came through in a couple of weeks and I was able to rent the showroom. I would recommend them to others wanting to borrow money to help grow their business.”

“Without Folk2Folk my business would not have been able to move forward. A lot of referral work has come through and with help of the showroom I am now able to show clients examples of two complete kitchens as well as attracting passing business in Richmond. There is no way that people from London could feasibly visit a showroom in Devon.”

The Folk2Folk loan has enabled James to expand the business into wardrobes, cinema rooms, boot rooms and other luxury designs such as wine cellars. As a result of the expansion and increased demand, he has also been able to invest in employing more local carpenters in Devon creating jobs in the local area. Other areas of investment include new machinery which James says makes the production far more efficient.

“I would definitely recommend Folk2Folk and would certainly use them again if I needed to borrow more money to expand the business further in the future.”

James now tends to work full-time in the showroom in Richmond whilst employing five cabinet makers in Devon to make the units and woodwork

www.jamesyeocabinetmakers.co.uk

Coombeshead Farm opens with help from FOLK2FOLK

FOLK2FOLK

Cornwall is renowned for its culinary talents to turn amazing local produce into exquisite plates of food in fantastic settings. As a result, there is an abundance of award winning restaurants and hotels in the county with one more making a number of headlines for its rustic approach to food. This exciting new guesthouse is Coombeshead Farm, the brainchild of renowned chefs April Bloomfield and Tom Adams.

Chef Tom Adams first began looking at traditional banks to help him fund the project to buy the premises for his guesthouse in Cornwall, but was met with little enthusiasm and was turned away from a number of banks.

Tom who had successfully run London smoke house Pitt Cue Co. decided to up-sticks and move to Cornwall, launching the project alongside his business partner, New York-based chef April Bloomfield. Unable to get the funds from a mainstream bank, they were informed about a local peer-to-peer lending service just a few miles down the road. After meeting Folk2Folk the business was back on after receiving the funding required, thanks to the business loans service. By looking beyond the banks and having a good reputation, business plan and valuable property Tom and April were able to get the funding via a business loan from Folk2Folk.

The funds helped to buy the 200-year-old £1.5m property,  Coombeshead Farm, a Cornish farmhouse and former landowner’s seat. The plan has come together by first turning it into a guesthouse, with Tom cooking dinner using local Cornish produce for guests with the aim to eventually expand into a full restaurant. You can go for dinner at present if you are not staying as a guest.

Both April and Tom are acclaimed chefs, but neither had ever undertaken a project such as Coombeshead Farm with one of their biggest challenges being how to finance the project.

“It was all new territory,” says Tom. “We tried to go down the textbook route, but it wasn’t viable, mainly because of the commercial element. It wasn’t just that we were looking for a house to live in; we needed to have a viable business too. And for a lot of banks, that wasn’t a risk that they were prepared to take.”

After eight months of searching, Tom and April took out an interest only loan from Folk2Folk for 3 years secured against the property, giving them time to build their business with an affordable fixed monthly repayment.

Speaking to Tom, he said he was very impressed by attitude of Folk2Folk compared to the banks as Folk2Folk took a more business forward thinking approach. “They have a genuine interest in supporting something that will benefit the area and its economy. That’s not something a national big bank would have an interest in,” he says.

Coombeshead farm has now been open since July 2016 and has already received several positive accolades and reviews. Tom and April are just one example of how local lending through Folk2Folk and its investors are helping business owners fund and achieve their business dream.

Local swimming pool business stays afloat through FOLK2FOLK

FOLK2FOLK

Business owner Laura of Aqua Stars Academy of Swimming turned to Folk2Folk to help her achieve her business goal of owning her own pool after years of renting a facility, allowing her to set up her own leisure site in Devon.

After 15 years in business running swimming pools that provided classes for children, babies and adults, Laura was forced to find alternative premises due to outgrowing the existing pool.

After acquiring a plot of land in Devon and gaining planning permission the next stage was to find the finance to build the swimming pool facility. With 15 years of business track record Laura thought her local bank would be happy to lend her the funds.

“I spoke to four banks that all turned me down despite me owning the land and having 15 years’ experience running my business. They all wanted me to show detailed forecasts and revenue projections despite my extensive business plans and client list that I had to put on hold.”

It was in August 2012 that Laura acquired planning permission and it took a further nine months before she could start building because of the banks saying no to her business plans.

“It was my husband that told me about Folk2Folk as it was mentioned to him at his work. We went down to the Launceston branch thinking it would be a waste of time and another rejection but the staff were interested in the business idea and after speaking to them about my plans and property, I had a decision three days later and the funds two weeks after that. We were amazed how quick and simple it was compared to the experience we had gone through with the banks.”

Aqua Stars Academy of Swimming initially borrowed £250,000 to begin the build, all of which was done by Laura’s father. A further £200,000 was then used to finish off the pool, café, kitchen and other bits of pool machinery such as the bio-mass boiler.

“Without Folk2Folk I think we would still be waiting for a bank to say yes.”

Since opening in September 2015, Aqua Stars is now fully booked, helping 900 children a week plus local schools to learn to swim. Laura was also able to bring her previous staff with her and create new jobs in the area. These new roles include a full-time chef, 3 full-time staff as well as 5 part-time staff for roles such as lifeguards. The business is also used by 12 local schools, adult aqua Zumba classes as well as a community meeting place for young families that use the pool for baby swimming.

Laura is keen to open the pool up to the public in the future as well as expanding the additional facilities to include a farm shop, play areas inside and outside as well as further landscaping the grounds.