In 2009, I, together with my husband Robert and daughter Robyn, bought a pub which I had previously owned with my husband and sister in law and brother in law and sold in 2001. Since then it had had two other owners and the whole pub business had completely changed. When we first ran it, people could still smoke inside and most of our profits came from the drinking trade which was phenomenal.
The drinking trade is no longer viable as a business model on its own. The “pub” business is now as much about the food and accommodation. We had taken a loan with NatWest to buy the pub for our daughter, Robyn, who was keen to run it. She had worked as a waitress for us when we had owned it previously. Now, married to a dairy farmer and living just a mile from the Pub, she wanted to run her own business. Robyn very much runs it on a daily basis and I help out on Sunday lunchtimes and at busy times, such as Bradworthy Carnival and the Pub’s Annual Real Ale Festival weekend. I find it a complete contrast to my day job as a Solicitor and I thoroughly enjoy working there. It’s very social!
Once we had acquired the pub we wanted to be able to provide accommodation. We are six miles from Bude so there is a lot of holiday trade. People walking on the coastal path or sailing on the Tamar Lake Reservoir. The bed and breakfast rooms were tired, it had a shared bathroom and needed a lot of work. We were just using rooms for storage.
We were delighted to get planning permission to convert them into two self catering apartments and went to the bank for a long term loan. We spent eighteen months drafting up projections and business plans but still there was no guarantee that any money would come through. It was incredibly frustrating and the bank clearly put pubs at the bottom of their pile. I tried to persuade them that the loan was for accommodation and to view it more as a holiday letting business but they insisted they could only look at it as one pub business.
How Folk2Folk helped us
A client of mine suggested that I use Folk2Folk to raise the money needed for the conversion. I couldn’t believe it, within two weeks of making the first phone call, the money was in my bank and we were able to get on with converting the accommodation. Folk2Folk were fantastic. We couldn’t have got the accommodation done without them. It took us six months to do the conversion and we now have a good occupancy rate which has made a huge difference to the business and our cashflow.
"I often recommend Folk2Folk to clients, both to the lenders and borrowers. Lenders as they will get a better return on their money than if it were just left in the bank and borrowers because the money is available quickly. Folk2Folk are fulfilling a great need in the market."
The loan from Folk2Folk has enabled us to expand our business and improve our cashflow. The pub is very much at the heart of the village, we provide a coffee shop, lunches for local businesses, including a take away service. We hold coffee mornings for the local hospice and a brunch on New Years Day, which is run by the Carnival Committee to raise funds for the annual Carnival. We are proud to be a part of the local community and employ 15 full and part time staff, all from the local area."