The Gardeners Arms in Alderton near Tewkesbury, is a popular 16th century freehold pub, offering a range of home-cooked, locally-sourced food. As for so many in the hospitality industry, lockdown was a very difficult time for the business. Thankfully, owners Mike and Wendy Wakeman were able to turn to Ignition for help and support when times got tough:
“Over the past few years our business has gone from strength to strength, with the Gardeners Arms gaining a very good reputation for offering visitors an excellent dining experience. Ignition has helped us along the way providing asset finance on a number of occasions, whether for purchasing new kitchen equipment, or investing in a new till system to support our customer loyalty scheme. We’ve always found their rates reasonable and liked that you could pay off loans early.
But 2020 has been challenging to say the least! Lockdown was devastating for us, and even the months leading up to it were bad for business. February was a particularly wet month with lots of local flooding. Then we experienced our worst takings ever for Cheltenham’s Gold Cup Week in March, with so many people staying away due to the emerging coronavirus threat. Finally, we had to close for lockdown just a few days before Mother’s Day, which is usually our busiest day of the year.
Ignition phoned us straight away to see how we were and to discuss how they could help us with our repayment commitments. They offered a number of options, which included letting us reduce repayments to half-rate throughout our closure. This was the best solution for us and made a huge difference to the business, taking away some of the financial pressure.
We furloughed all our staff, other than just four of us, and used the time to undertake refurbishments and painting. We also started a takeaway service which helped enormously, and since we have a blast chiller, we also came up with the idea of producing and delivering frozen meals that customers could store in their freezers. This was really popular and provided a welcome service to the local community.
It was certainly an exhausting time, working with very few staff members, handling all the painting, cooking, and deliveries between us, but it kept the business going.
Now we are open again and despite the new social-distancing measures, we are very busy with bookings. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been very beneficial for us, and we have already managed to pay off one of our loans early.
We are so grateful to Ignition. Their help and understanding during this difficult time definitely helped to keep us afloat. They provide a truly personal service to their customers, building lasting relationships with them, and are always willing to nurture business potential. It has been reassuring to have their support through good times and bad.”