Isle of Wight retailer bags the best commercial mortgage deal



Carol Hudson, owner of the Isle of Wight based handbag and fashion accessory stores, Zabre, discovered that new British bank Aldermore was happy to support her business expansion plans when traditional banks were unwilling to provide a helping hand.

Carol opened her first shop in Ryde six years ago. The business took-off quickly and Carol purchased larger premises in Ryde before acquiring an additional retail unit in Cowes just 18 months later. Buoyed by the success of her growing business, Carol opened a further store in Newport, giving her a presence in the three largest towns on the Isle of Wight.

With the business continuing to go from strength-to-strength, Carol felt the time was right to expand into ladies and gents clothing and found the ideal retail premises for her new venture in Ryde. Having produced a financial plan Carol realised that, taking into account refurbishment and fitting-out costs, she required a commercial mortgage for 70 per cent of the value of the new property.

Having enjoyed a long and positive working relationship with a high street bank, Carol approached her bank manager for a loan but, as she explains, the response she received was not what she had hoped for: “My bank manager on the Isle of White was very enthusiastic and happy to support my application but when the proposal was submitted to head office, she was told the bank’s policy was now to lend only up to 60 per cent of the value of retail premises. That wasn’t any use to me, so I had to consider other options.”

Carol was put in touch with Darren Cook, Managing Director of Hampshire based commercial finance brokerage, Citygold Financial Group. Darren takes-up the story: “I wasn’t surprised by the dilemma Carol was facing because, unfortunately, having a successful business is not necessarily a guarantee that banks will provide a loan in today’s market.

“I spoke to a number of alternative lenders and eventually settled on the new British bank, Aldermore. I was really impressed by their approach and desire to find a solution, rather than simply turning a perfectly sound application down because ’the computer says no’.

Carol was also impressed by the quality of Aldermore’s service: “Martin Thurlby, Aldermore’s senior lending manger, spent a day on the Isle of Wight looking at the proposed retail site and analysing my business plan. Martin wanted to look beyond the loan application and really understand what made my business tick.

“If I had a need to speak to someone at Aldermore I was always put through to the same person, who was familiar with the details of my application. They were also very efficient at liaising with other professionals such as solicitors. It was back to good old-fashioned banking and I felt that Aldermore valued my business and wanted to do the deal. It was important that I was able to start trading before the busy Christmas period and Aldermore made it possible me to open my doors for business by the 3rd December.”

Darren Cook added: “Aldermore moved quickly and the quality of service was first-class. I’ll have no hesitation recommending this innovative new bank to other clients in the future. At a time when big banks have missed their Project Merlin targets for lending to small businesses, it’s good to know that a new breed of banks such as Aldermore are providing small businesses with much needed support.

Carol Hudson concluded: “My new shop, House of Zabre, is now up and running and trading successfully. We aim to provide our customers with a high quality service and enjoyable shopping experience and I feel that Aldermore has a similar set of principles. They provided me with a competitively priced product supported by a fast and efficient service. What more could I ask for?”