Mixing business with leisure

It’s been almost 2 years since Jon Salisbury appointed himself Chief Blog Writer and, over this period, nobody else has had a look-in.

However, this month Jon has been busy organising his community fun run, which is a 5km race he established in 2013.  The fun run has raised many thousands for charity, which is a good thing considering the stressed-out monster Jon becomes as the event approaches.

The other benefit is that it has distracted Jon from his blog-writing duties and given me the opportunity to replace his self-deprecating remarks and irrelevant commentary with something genuinely interesting.  And you get the opportunity to be charitable by reading my musings.

As summer draws to the close, everyone in the leisure industry (including leisure lenders like us) should be interested to read the Coffer Peach Business Tracker which shows how the leisure industry performed during August.

The good news is that growth in the pub and restaurant sector continues to be steady, with the Business Tracker reporting like-for-like growth of 1.1% in July, 1.7% in June and 2.1% in May.  However, August was definitely slow and saw like-for-like growth of only 0.6%.

Some key reasons for this are given by Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS:

–       “More people flying abroad for holidays this year – with Gatwick Airport reporting its busiest ever August bank holiday weekend – will have had an effect on August trading,”

–       “The fact that the retail sector had a poor month with sales actually down on last year won’t have helped some restaurants either.”

To some extent this trend reflects the performance of our pub finance product at Ortus.  We are still seeing growth, but not at the same rate as last year.  However, we think this is mainly because other lenders are entering the sector – not least the high street banks – which is something we predicted from the outset.  Indeed, it’s great for our business because our early stage pub clients invariably refinance with challenger or high street banks.

And getting loans draw down and successfully repaid helps us build our business, which in turn enables us to design new products.  For example we’re doing more 2 year loans now, expanding our offering to cover a wider range of commercial assets and expanding our geographic capabilities to cover Northern Ireland.

It does however show the importance of staying ahead and constantly improving our offering to brokers.  Which is why we’re happy Jon will finally be working for Ortus again, instead of stressing about his road closure and bottled water supplier.

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