Woolacombe’s new luxury development offers bed to beach in just 4 minutes

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Background

A breath-taking sight awaits as you emerge round the bend leading down to the North Devon coastal village of Woolacombe.  Bright, shimmering sea striped with frothy waves and edged by an inviting sandy three mile beach creates a view not easily forgotten and amply justifies Woolacombe’s inclusion in the UK’s top 10 beaches.*

In 2008, after many years of idyllic family summers spent on this unspoilt and naturally beautiful stretch of coast, Robert and Sheila Sawyer discovered a local hotel for sale and were excited by its possibilities. The Narracott Grand Hotel had been an iconic destination for surfers and families in the 1960s and 70s but had been in terminal decline for years. Instantly recognising its potential to create a new destination for a UK holiday, Robert and Sheila joined with five other directors to form Blast Properties Ltd and purchased the hotel.

However, the financial crisis put their ambitions on hold until the economy strengthened in 2016. They also saw opportunity presented by Brexit, anticipating that British buyers would take more staycations and make savvy holiday home investments.

Now complete, the property development is known as Byron and offers 57 open market residential apartments. The level of luxury on offer aims to alter the perception of Woolacombe and challenge some of the more glamorous beach resorts further down the coast.  And, it appears to be succeeding; a recent article in the Telegraph featuring Byron, referred to Woolacombe as “The old-fashioned Devon seaside spot that could soon rival Rock”.

How FOLK2FOLK helped

Byron is one of the largest investments in any North Devon coastal community and an example of one of FOLK2FOLK’s largest single peer to peer loan investments to date.

In 2019, with the majority of the build complete and almost half the apartments sold, the directors of Blast Properties had met the conditions of their original funders and began looking to consolidate their loans and refinance on better terms for the sales phase.  FOLK2FOLK was chosen after Blast Properties approached a number of lenders via their broker.

“The offers that were eventually tabled were in no way comparable to FOLK2FOLK’s offer,” explained Robert, “An additional benefit was a shared sense of purpose to regenerate economic activity in a small community in North Devon.”

“FOLK2FOLK’s process was also quicker and more straightforward.  We really appreciated the direct contact with senior management, making decisions on minor or major points only a phone call away.”
– Robert Sawyer, director Blast Properties Ltd

The business

Ranging from one to four bedrooms, Byron’s apartments have exclusive use of the development’s luxurious facilities which include a wellness spa, gym, indoor pool, sauna, games room and parking. Brundles, a new restaurant on the site is run by Devon-born Graham Brundle, the former personal chef to Richard Branson on the entrepreneur’s Necker Island resort in the British Virgin Islands. Brundles is open to the public but offers exclusive benefits to owners and their holiday rental guests. It’s easy to see why Robert says “owning an apartment at Byron is like having a hotel in your home”.

Robert and Sheila explain that owning a holiday home at Byron provides a great location for holidays with friends and family while also offering owners a lucrative source of additional income.  The apartments have been designed with this in mind and are unrestricted by any holiday occupation clause.  In addition, Byron’s letting service offers a hands-off service that enables owners to enjoy rental profit without the hassle of dealing with an off-site agency.

Woolacombe’s new luxury development offers bed to beach in just 4 minutes | FOLK2FOLK

Robert explains there are also tax benefits for this type of property investment: “What many people don’t realise is that recent tax changes to buy to let taxation are making furnished holiday rental property more profitable than buy to let property.

“Apartments at Byron can be classified as a Furnished Holiday Let (FHL) which brings benefits of capital allowances and other tax benefits compared to Buy to Let. This is because Furnished Holiday Letting is treated as a business, whereas Buy to Let is treated as an investment in property.  Based on the purchase price alone FHL properties at Byron offer tax free profits for up to five years.”
– Robert Sawyer, director Blast Properties Ltd

FOLKONOMICS In Action

By developing the former Narracott Grand Hotel which had been in decline for years, Byron has made a significant economic impact to the local area.

“Approximately 46 full time roles have been created at Brundles Bar and Restaurant and five new jobs at Byron for staff to provide services to owners and their guests. We estimate the annual gross value added to the Northern Devon economy is approximately £1.48m per year. “
– Robert Sawyer, director Blast Properties Ltd

In addition, local tradesmen and businesses were used in the build and local suppliers are used by Brundles restaurant, except for very technical consultants who had to be imported from elsewhere in the South West. The attraction of the development has the potential to draw an increased number of diners, visitors and tourists to Woolacombe and its local businesses.

For more information about borrowing or lending via FOLK2FOLK
Visit: www.folk2folk.com  Call: 0333 455 1902

For information on properties to purchase at Byron, please contact Byron direct on:
Call: 01271 871 643  Email: sales@byronwoolacombe.co.uk
Visit: www.byronwoolacombe.co.uk.

*Top 10 beaches – United Kingdom and Channel Islands, Trip Advisor

Transforming Paschoe House into a boutique hotel and local employer

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After receiving some fantastic reviews such as in The Telegraph and other local publications, FOLK2FOLK went along to see the results of the transformation of Paschoe House. Once a former derelict manor house, it’s owner’s daughter Tabitha Amador-Christie discusses how the house has evolved into a modern boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant. With help from FOLK2FOLK and our lenders, the money raised has helped make Tabitha’s dream and business idea a reality. One that now employs over 20 people and has put Paschoe House up there as one of the UK’s hottest hotels on the rise.

At aged 18, Tabitha already had her vision for a business. It was to transform her home, Paschoe House in Devon, into a boutique hotel. Armed with a business plan created herself, Tabitha pitched the idea to her father over tacos at Wahaca in Westfield Shopping Centre in London.

Unsurprisingly, Tabitha’s father said no at the time but fast-forward 10 years and after further pressures from an ambitious and determined Tabitha, her dad gave way to her plans to create a boutique hotel in the heart of Devon.

“I just couldn’t let the idea go. All through my time at university and working in London, I kept coming back to the house at weekends and knew it had the potential to be a luxury hotel. In 2014 we went through a life changing experience as a family and after a further 7-8 months of discussing the idea with my Dad, he then give me the blessing to put a proper business case together with architectural plans and finance propositions.”

Transforming Paschoe House into a boutique hotel and local employer | FOLK2FOLK

Tabitha was able to pull together all the building plans, CADS and business plans by asking friends to help out. By doing this before the project even started, Tabitha was able to save thousands in professional fees. All-in-all it took around 10 months to get the plans together as well as planning permissions for the listed building to be made into a hotel.

“I remember we got the final planning permissions from the council in June 2016, the next stage was getting the finance in place to start the building work as quickly as possible. The challenge for me was where we would raise the funds needed to do the work.”

Tabitha naturally went to her family’s existing bank for a loan. It immediately said no to the idea as it was not lending to the leisure and tourism industry. The initial feedback was that the business was too projection led. Tabitha also tried Barclays which wanted a deposit of 20% based on the loan amount which she didn’t have.

It was her solicitor Andrew Greene who recommended Tabitha to speak to FOLK2FOLK to see if we could help fund the renovations and new building work.

Transforming Paschoe House into a boutique hotel and local employer | FOLK2FOLK

Transforming Paschoe House into a boutique hotel and local employer | FOLK2FOLK

“In mid-September 2016  I went into FOLK2FOLK’s Launceston branch armed with my plans and deeds and had a fantastic meeting discussing the business. I was then informed the next day that the loan had been approved by FOLK2FOLK, which really helped bring a sense of calm and reassurance. Within 1-2 weeks the funds were in my account and that same week the builders were on site getting to work.”

“I had heard of FOLK2FOLK but wish I had gone to them sooner, as I could have saved myself around three months of wasted time and discussions with banks. It was great to get certainty after so much rejection.”

“What struck me was the ethos of FOLK2FOLK, it was positive in saying yes and I think it’s a fair form of finance as I know my money is coming from real people, which means I am extremely grateful to my lenders for believing in me. I know my repayments are going to them which makes me more determined to make the hotel a success.”

Paschoe House is a great example of Folkonomics and the local lending movement in action. Tabitha is passionate about keeping everything local from produce to staff.

During the 11-month renovation and building project, she employed only local contractors to carry out the work. On average, she says there were around 40 people on site at any one time. This included plumbers, builders, carpenters, painters, electricians and plasterers. The hotel is a testament to her project managing skills and design vision, as she was on site 24/7 to oversee the various contractors and interiors which she did herself.

The hotel has also become an attractive local place to work too, as Tabitha has hired an experienced and talented Devon based chef plus additional local talent to fill the 23 roles at the hotel with 6 permanent members of the team and the rest on part-time and flexible hours. Tabitha emphasised that as this is a family home turned hotel and she wants to make her team feel part of that family too.

Transforming Paschoe House into a boutique hotel and local employer | FOLK2FOLK

“It was always my plan to make Paschoe into a luxury destination venue for people looking to explore Devon but also for locals to enjoy too; be that for lunch & dinner, evening drinks or afternoon tea. I always had the goal of the business to be a local employer, to create jobs for local people to learn, train and grow their careers. We have CVs coming in daily which is great as we can then look at ensuring we have the best people for the roles we have available.”

“We are also a fully set up for weddings and corporate events, and have a couple of big weddings and events under our belts. This was a good test for me and the team to see how we fare under the pressure. I’m very happy to say that the team did excellent, we learned a lot from it as I’m always looking to make improvements to the hotel and the way we do things.”

“The next the stage is to increase our bookings and private hires but also to become a 5-star hotel. I think that will really help make us stand out as a go-to hotel in the South West.”

Following our chat in the main living room with hotel dog Truffles looking on, Tabitha gave FOLK2FOLK a guided tour of the bedrooms, kitchen, bar, dining room and outside. What struck us was the sheer size and scale of the project and level of design and detail that has gone into Paschoe House. Tabitha has created a luxurious hotel, that is at the same time calm, cosy and contemporary without being over-the-top in its design.

Transforming Paschoe House into a boutique hotel and local employer | FOLK2FOLK

We look forward to seeing how the hotel progresses and expect to see more great reviews in the future.  Paschoe House is a shining example of why FOLK2FOLK’s local lending movement is important and how Folkonomics can benefits local communities.

We wish Tabitha and her team all the best.

Dartington Dairy

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What does it take to produce an award-winning ice cream?

A lot of dedication, taste-testing, early mornings plus a decent herd of goats and cows.

At the Dartington Estate in Devon, farming couple Jon and Lynne Perkin took on the tenancy at Old Parsonage Farm in March 2015 and set about transforming the farm into a commercial dairy via their herd of goatlings and the management of the Sharpham Jersey herd of cows later that year.

In 2016 the Dartington Dairy was launched in 2016, working with a local specialist to make ice cream from their first batch of goats’ milk.

Excited by the opportunities that they felt were available at Old Parsonage Farm, through diversifying away from more traditional farming practices, they developed the idea of starting a goat dairy, selling the milk and other products locally and directly to the customer. For Jon and Lynne it is also important that the farm provides public access and education around farming, enabling people to understand the farm environment and the provenance of their food. Currently, this is through farm open days and the different ‘Milking’ and ‘Farmer for the Day’ experiences on offer.

After a lot of frustration in trying to secure finance through government funding initiatives and speaking to their bank, Jon and Lynne spent close to £10k in professional assistance in gathering documents and information to be told that the goalposts of their loan had moved. After speaking to a family friend, Jon was introduced to FOLK2FOLK as a possible solution to provide the £75k as a business loan to help with the business.

“I wish I had come to FOLK2FOLK at the very beginning as we would’ve saved a lot of money and time. I couldn’t believe how simple the loan process was. It was a breath of fresh air working with a company that uses common sense and listens to you as a business. We got a decision in under two days and the money was in our account three weeks later. I had given up on the high-street banks completely. It was a totally easier, better and happier experience dealing with FOLK2FOLK.”

Jon and Lynne used the funds to develop the dairy by purchasing essential processing equipment and investing in the brand to make it more marketable to potential buyers and consumers.

Dartington Dairy | FOLK2FOLK

Dartsington Dairy’s product range varies from ice cream to milk and kefir yogurt. Their unique and secret way of making ice cream has landed them with a Great Taste Gold Star Award for their chocolate ice cream. Having tasted it ourselves we can see why! The other flavours are also delicious.

The produce is currently sold across 40 local retail outlets in the south west, but Jon and Lynne have ambitions to sell across the UK and through larger supermarkets over the next 2 years as the business matures and gains more awareness.

Jon takes a trial approach to new business partnerships and challenges shops to help change perceptions about goat’s milk products. So far, he has not had to refund any of his 40 retail customers as they all continue to increase their orders.

“We are investing in the business for the long-term. Our team of six, is super dedicated but we are always keen to get talented and hard-working staff to help grow the dairy and get as many people trying and buying our products. It’s reassuring to know that our lenders believed in us and we want to ensure that we use their money wisely to build a profitable business.”

The future of the dairy is certainly looking mint and with more flavours and products in the pipeline, we can expect even more exciting developments to come from this hard working team in Dartington.

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

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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

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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

Local swimming pool business stays afloat through FOLK2FOLK

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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.