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DIY dog wash grows with £5,000 seed loan

An indoor self-service dog wash shop has grown with a £5,000 start-up loan.

Victoria Shepherd created Happy Henry’s! at Amerton Farm, near Stafford, last year to pursue her dream of running a dog spa business.

Now she has used an interest-free loan from the Staffordshire County Council Start-Up Scheme to develop herself into dog grooming.

The funding is part of the wider Staffordshire Means Back to Business support scheme set up by the county council to get more money and business support faster during and after the pandemic.

Victoria said: “My own dog was very nervous but having had dogs for years I know how to help people deal with them. When I saw a gap in the Stafford market for a dog grooming service do-it-yourself that not only makes bathing nervous dogs easier, but also helps teach their owners to manage their behaviors, I jumped on it.

“Although I have years of experience as a dog owner, when my dog ​​Henry came into my life, I realized he had issues that I didn’t know how to handle. game-based training and I started to learn more about dog behavior and great ways to help dogs.

“The interest-free loan from the county council has given me just that bit of breathing room to complete my grooming training so that I can now offer a full service for all dogs.”



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The county council has so far provided £124,000 in interest-free loans to businesses in Staffordshire that needed a boost.

Deputy Leader of Staffordshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, Philip White, said: “Our start-up loans can make a real difference for young businesses and have been a vital part of growing of Victoria.

“With flexible repayment terms as well as zero per cent interest, these loans have already made a big difference to small businesses in Staffordshire, who are the engine of our economy.

“With support available across Staffordshire, it’s no wonder our county has seen more businesses start up in recent years than ever before, and they’re growing faster than most in the UK. .”

Interest-free loans of between £3,000 and £5,000 from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business support scheme are available for businesses less than two years old.

Visit the Staffordshire County Council website for more information.

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Lloyds Bank backs Platform Housing with £235m loan

Lloyds Bank has backed a West Midlands housing association with its biggest ever sustainability-related loan.

Solihull-based Platform Housing will use the massive new £235m funding to help it develop new affordable housing and decarbonise its existing portfolio.

The company’s current housing stock includes approximately 47,000 homes serving over 100,000 people in the region and employs 1,500 people.

The funding is Lloyds Bank’s largest ever loan to the sustainability-linked social housing sector and will focus on three key areas.

Platform Housing will improve the energy efficiency of its existing portfolio by changing the fabric of buildings and introducing low-carbon technologies to heat and power homes.



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It will also aim to increase the energy efficiency of all its new properties as it begins to ramp up development activities above pre-pandemic levels of 1,500 homes per year.

Finally, Platform Housing plans to invest in its staff and communities by increasing the proportion of employees who undertake apprenticeships each year, increasing this figure by 0.5% each year for the next five years.

Chief Financial Officer Rosemary Farrar said: “The Midlands is experiencing one of the most acute housing shortages in the country.

“That means it’s crucial to develop a stock that is both fit for purpose and fit for the future.

“We are proud that our ambitions span a range of environmental, social and corporate governance objectives and will deliver a housing portfolio that benefits the communities in which we operate across the region.”

Jatinder Dhaliwal, Regional Head of Housing at Lloyds Bank, added: “Platform Housing is committed to improving its environmental, social and corporate governance delivery to its communities and within the social housing sector and we are proud to help the association in its journey.

“This funding will have a lasting impact on the quality and availability of housing in the Midlands and we look forward to working closely with Platform as it achieves its goals.”

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Coventry Engineering eyes expansion after securing six-figure MEIF loan

A Coventry manufacturer has secured a £400,000 loan to invest in new equipment and create new jobs over the next three years.

The funding, from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), will enable Coventry Engineering to switch to 24/7 production and create seven new jobs over the coming years.

The company brings together three specialist engineering businesses – Coventry Toolholder, CTL Centreline and Coventry Engineering Services – all of which provide precision tooling solutions and services. It operates in a variety of sectors, including aerospace, defence, motorsport, medical, and oil and gas.

Andrew Flynn, Managing Director of Coventry Engineering, said: “We pride ourselves on manufacturing our products using both traditional and modern manufacturing techniques. This funding will allow us to expand the modern part of our range with cutting-edge solutions, so that we can better serve our customers and continue to innovate and grow as a company. »

Andrew added: “We are delighted to be recruiting highly qualified new professionals and are grateful to the FSE Group for guiding us through the application process that will enable this recruitment to take place.”



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Chris Bailey, Chief Investment Officer at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund, said: “Engineering plays a key role in economic growth and productivity and so we are delighted to have been able to support Coventry Engineering.

“The company is well positioned to continue its current success with a management team with over 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry. The company has a strong reputation with proven applications and technology. We look forward to see their new products and services that will undoubtedly expand their customer base and lead them into new sectors.”

Sean Farnell, Board Director of Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), added: “This funding will enable Coventry Engineering to continue to invest in state-of-the-art machinery from its Exhall base and create new jobs.

“Support for SMEs is the backbone of CWLEP’s strategic reset framework, as they are critical to the success of our economy.”

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Pembrokeshire jeweler Howells completes major refurbishment after six-figure loan

Howells Jewelers has completed a major refurbishment following a six-figure loan from the Development Bank of Wales.

The 155-year-old family business, located on Quay Street in Haverfordwest, has received financial support from the Development Bank as well as funding from Pembrokeshire County Council.

The funding was part of the council’s Houses into Homes Empty Property Scheme, designed to bring empty properties back into use.

It enabled the renovation of the double-fronted shop and the creation of four new apartments, regenerating an adjoining business and safeguarding four jobs in the town.

Each of the two-bedroom apartments has river views and will be rented out to locals looking for accommodation in Haverfordwest.

Paul Howells, owner and fourth generation jeweler, said: “Our building was in poor condition and needed updating to ensure the long term success of the business and to breathe new life into the property. Funding from the Pembrokeshire Development Bank and Council has enabled us to restore the building with a smart new storefront and four new apartments, safeguarding our future and helping the town to thrive.

Development Bank of Wales portfolio manager Richard Easton said: “Buying jewelery is still a purchase most people want to make in person rather than online, so there remains strong demand for high quality jewelers like Howells.

“With a very loyal customer base, Howells has been an integral part of Haverfordwest for over 155 years. Our investment has helped protect this legacy, save jobs, create new homes and support a sustainable and prosperous future for a long-standing and well-respected local business.

The Wales Business Fund is partly funded by the ERDF through the Welsh Government. It was created specifically to support Wales-based businesses with fewer than 250 employees and those looking to set up in Wales with loans and equity ranging from £50,000 to £2 million.

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Unbranded Finance closes £ 36million loan for shopping center


Edinburgh-based non-bank lender Unbranded Finance has finalized its largest and most complex loan yet.

In partnership with property management firm Westbrook Partners, the two-year £ 36million facility has been provided to a branch of London-based development firm Boultbee LDN, to refinance The Maltings shopping center in St Albans.

The loan was advanced within six weeks of agreeing the terms and initiating due diligence.

Andrew Smith, co-founder of Unbranded Finance, commented: “A great deal of due diligence has been undertaken in a relatively short period of time, and all credit goes to the teams on both sides.

“The Maltings is a key retail asset that has been extremely resilient during the pandemic and has significant potential to add value over the coming months. “

The Maltings comprises 300,000 square feet of retail, office and other commercial space leased to approximately 100 occupants, including TK Maxx, Wilko and H&M.

It also has 31 long-lease residential units and an 800-space parking lot, all on a six-acre site in the heart of the city.

Steve Boultbee-Brooks, President of Boultbee LDN, added, “Despite being in the midst of a pandemic and challenging trading environment, The Maltings continues to turn the tide with a steady recovery trading at 98% of occupation.

“Unbranded Finance and Westbrook have shown an experienced, professional and pragmatic attitude in getting things done. “

Unbranded Finance was established in 2020 by real estate investors and developers Andrew Smith and Oliver Holt, with the aim of providing fast and flexible loans secured by real estate assets.

The business targets lending opportunities backed by strong fundamentals, where a quick withdrawal is required, or when the deal is outside the criteria of most other lenders.

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