Thank goodness for Sport Relief, which is happening in a couple of weeks!
Yesterday I had the misfortune of having lunch in our favourite café, listening to two women on the next table who had the health and strength to go out to lunch but whose conversation was ‘me, me, me,’ – ‘moan, moan, moan.’
Later in the day I caught up with the day’s news channel – the results of Super Tuesday (are they really the best politicians that America has to offer?) Then hearing about all the migration debacles in Europe and the UK Government squabbling about Brexit or the disaster of leaving.
STOP – pull yourself together father and count your blessings!
Fortunately, after the news, there was an episode of DIY SOS The Big Build. All those guys giving up their wages and working through snow and freezing winds to help a widowed father and his six children.
Then I think of Red Nose Day, Sport Relief, Help for Heroes and so many more charities. Yes, Eddie Izzard running 27 marathons in as many days is truly phenomenal and more power to his knees, but what catches me in the throat is the army of children who give up their time and effort to raise money for those less fortunate than themselves!!!
We really are a great Britain and when we focus on the givers and the people they help we can put the Trumps & Clintons, the Camerons & the Goves and the Draghis & Junckers in their place.
Being happy, positive and grateful is far too important to our health and spirit than to allow politicians and moaners to blind us to all the great in Great Britain.
A recent phone call from an accountant friend asked if we would fund the fitting out of a new gymnasium that was being developed from a derelict mill. An important part of the cost was flooring for part of the building as well as the gym equipment.
Both the client and the accountant had approached a number of lenders, all of whom were happy to fund the equipment but were not interested in paying for the flooring.
On receiving the client’s details and business plan we looked into his background and history. He owned several unencumbered properties and his farming business was well able to support the new venture.
Subsequently, the accountant informed us that it was our flexibility over the flooring that had decided them to take up our offer.
IT’S THE PEOPLE WE FINANCE, NOT THE ASSETS
Old friends and followers of Armada blogs will be well aware of our love of and significant connection with Cheltenham and the beautiful Cotswolds.
From The Polo Canteen in Cirencester to The Wild Duck at Ewen, we followed the careers and successes of Tina Mussell and her family and enjoyed our relationship with them. It was therefore a surprise to hear that The Wild Duck had been purchased by The Lucky Onion Group, owned and run by Sam and Georgina Pearman.
Like us, you may not have known of The Lucky Onion, but a few minutes with Google and we were thrilled to see that Sam and Georgina are running two hotels and a pub in Cheltenham as well as the famous Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach, The chequers in Churchill and now The Wild Duck.
After a lifetime of financing the hotel and catering industry I was delighted to see that the golden thread of quality and understated style runs through each of the Lucky Onion’s establishments.
Not surprisingly, with Sam’s background, he started his career at Langans Brasserie in London, the menus of the gastro pubs and hotels are a delight in themselves, let alone what they promise on a plate. If you are a lover of Tom Kerridge’s style of food, you will be a fan of The Lucky Onion for life.
The blessing of not living in the Cotswolds is that we have every opportunity to visit and stay at all the Onion’s premises, as well as the superb Wild Rabbit and Kingham Plough and Feathered Nest, all near Stow-on-the-Wold.
Despite what we read of pubs closing and hotels struggling, where the owners give quality, support their staff and take a day to day interest in their business and their customers, success will surely follow them.
Having worked for a High Street chain of opticians for some years, Tim was frustrated by the attitude of his colleagues. He became desperate to branch out on his own but friends and family kept pointing out how much competition there was in the town centre and how competitive his profession is.
Like so many entrepreneurs, Tim couldn’t be dissuaded. He had total belief in his abilities as an optometrist and he had conviction that he could run a business.
Thinking outside the box, Tim decided that he could better his chances of success if he sited his practise in the local business park, with the benefits of a captive audience and plenty of parking facilities.
Finding lenders to believe in him proved more difficult than finding premises – until he found Armada. We looked into his background and his business plan and discussed his requirements.
Other lenders were not prepared to invest sufficient funds for a new business to make it viable.
With Tim’s experience and dedication to the project, together with the amount of equity he had in his personal property we were happy to finance £85K’s worth of assets for the new venture.
Now the business park has a stylish opticians, a pharmacy, a convenience store and a children’s nursery, all happy busy Armada clients.
When Philippe approached Armada to see if we would support his new venture, a true French styled bakery, he had not completely thought through his business plan. This might have accounted for the times he was turned down for credit by other lenders.
We suggested he looked at how other artisan bakers in the UK had established niches that might help him to firm up his ideas.
After visiting Richard Bertinet’s businesses in Bath, where he has 2 shops and a cookery school and also seeing the Town Mill Bakery operation in Lyme Regis, where you can eat while watching the bakers working, Philippe returned much more focused.
We also addressed the issue of Philippe’s lack of security for a significant proposal to purchase bakery plant, security equipment and blinds and signage. We suggested that finding a suitable guarantor for the asset finance agreement was the best route to secure the support he needed.
Six months later Philippe had found ideal premises, fitted them out and was already impressing the locals with his French styled bread and pastries.
Fortunately Philippe’s in-laws were happy to guarantee his agreement with Armada. He is now looking at the wisdom of starting a school to teach the basic arts of French patisserie.
How delighted are we to have supported another quality, artisan business from start-up to success.