Spa can destress as challenger bank steps in

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HIGH Street lenders refused to back Lisa Carlyle when she wanted to invest in her hair and beauty business.

“They all turned me down,” said the owner and manager of York-based Kuki Spa.

“Even though I had been in business for several successful years, and had just been nominated for two local business awards, they said I had not been trading long enough.”

Undeterred, she approached commercial mortgage broker Kirsty Best from JR Commercial Mortgages, who introduced her to Shawbrook Bank.

The challenger bank, launched in 2011 to help support SMEs, offered her £280,000 to fund the purchase of a listed building in the suburb of Heworth.

Since striking the deal to buy the property, Ms Carlyle has started developing a retreat complete with wooden lodge, hydra spa and sauna in the grounds.

She has hired more staff and extended opening times to seven days a week to cope with the increasing demand.

“Every week it gets better,” said Ms Carlyle.

Shawbrook has now passed the £1bn lending mark. It has lent £53m to SMEs and individual customers in Yorkshire.

The bank provides commercial mortgages and asset finance to small businesses and property investors, and secured loans to home owners.

Shawbrook also offers consumer finance via home improvement suppliers, resorts and retailers who want to offer finance packages to their customers.

It lends through a network of brokers, rather than High Street branches, helping to keep costs down.

Chief executive Ian Henderson said: “SMEs are at the heart of their communities and the driving force behind the UK economy.

“We know that small businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber, like many across the UK, have found it very difficult to borrow in recent years, and we are proud to have grown our lending in the region since we launched in 2011.

“As the economy starts to show signs of growth, it’s vital that banks give their customers the support they need to prosper.

“We look forward to helping more businesses in Yorkshire to grow in 2013 and beyond.”

Shawbrook was formed in 2011 through the merger of Whiteaway Laidlaw Bank, the lending platform of Commercial First, and Link Loans.

In March 2012 Shawbrook acquired Singers Asset Finance to extend its lending offer to SMEs. It broke even in May 2012 after 16 months of trading.