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Month: June 2020

One of the UK’s best loved artisan cheesemakers, Mrs Kirkham’s has revealed the reality of surviving the COVID-19 lockdown and how securing a government backed loan from a local independent lender, Enterprise Answers allowed the business to keep running.

Managing Director, Graham Kirkham took over the running of the business from his mother fifteen years ago. Since then Graham and a small team have been passionately developing the business, earning numerous awards for their Lancashire cheeses. The cheeses are produced using raw cow’s milk from their own herd of 240 cows and are available through selected retailers across the country.

Sadly, the third-generation family business based in Goosnargh was one of many smaller food businesses to be hit dramatically by the collapse of the hospitality industry after lockdown was announced.

Graham said, “After the lockdown, we lost 75% of our business overnight. We saw forty years of growth disappear, yet we were powerless.”

“Wholesalers were sending back stock and our storeroom was filling up. We weren’t selling any cheese but as we’re a working farm, our outgoings remained the same. It was a massive worry. We considered stopping the cheesemaking and furloughing our staff but no-one wanted to buy the milk either. One week we only sold nine cheeses, yet we knew we needed to sell 130 to break even. We had to find new routes to selling our cheese”.

Like many other businesses, Mrs Kirkham’s needed financial help to see them through the crisis. Graham explained, “We started to look for a solution but having never experienced this before we weren’t sure what to do.  I had a conversation with our bank but frustratingly, they were unable to help us.

“Our accountants advised us to seek a loan which would allow us to keep running the farm and producing cheese. They recommended Enterprise Answers, who they felt may be able to help us.”

Enterprise Answers are an accredited delivery partner for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) in the North West. The CBILS scheme enables lenders to provide facilities of up to £5m to SME’s who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. 

Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Grahame Latus said, “We’re really pleased to have been able to assist a long established family business with the finance it requires to tackle uncertainties to its core activities, as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

“Mrs Kirkham’s is a wonderful family business spanning three generations and a lovely example of all that is good about rural enterprise, encompassing the production of artisan food created from the yield of their own farm. Graham and Kellie are great ambassadors for the food sector here in the North West”.

Speaking about the loan application process, Graham Kirkham commented, “The application process was simple and straightforward. I had a telephone interview with Enterprise Answers as part of the application, but rather than being daunting, it was a useful and practical conversation. My accountants then helped me complete the form.”

“The following evening, I got a call from Grahame to say that the loan had been approved. The relief was immense. I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

“The loan from Enterprise Answers combined with the help and publicity we received has really helped us to get through the past few weeks. We were able to join a box scheme run by Neal’s Yard in collaboration with Jamie Oliver, that allowed cheese producers like us to supply customers directly.

“We also attracted fantastic public support from people visiting our makeshift farm shop after being interviewed on the farm by the BBC.  We started offering local delivery of our cheeses through social media and before long, other producers were bringing their produce to sell at our shop. We are now looking into creating a permanent farm shop here on the farm”.

Grahame of Enterprise Answers added, “Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese Limited has a resilient business model which should enable it to successfully overcome the current challenges and emerge as a more robust business able to respond to the ‘new normal’, yet seize new opportunities for future growth”.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS).



Enterprise Answers is a North West based CDFI (Community Development Finance Institution), the only rural CDFI in the country and a member of Responsible Finance. We are passionate about helping SMEs to flourish by providing them with access to finance. We lend our own funds as well as those of third party organisations.

Due to impending retirement, we are seeking to recruit a new Business Lending Manager to cover Cumbria, North Lancashire & the Yorkshire Dales.  

Job Title: Business Lending Manager
Main Purpose of Job:
To originate new business and appraise lending proposals for Enterprise Answers business loans to growing SMEs in the North West, primarily in Cumbria, North Lancashire & the Yorkshire Dales.

Enterprise Answers is a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) and a member of Responsible Finance. As a lender and manager of funds, we are committed to providing viable SME’s with access to finance in the North West region. We are a Delivery Partner of the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee & Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan schemes.
This can be a home-based position that will require working out in the field, from our Penrith office.

Responsible to the Chief Executive.

Duties and Responsibilities:
Whilst not limited to these the principle areas of this role are as follows:

  1. To generate new business through personal networking and contacts
  2. Undertake loan appraisals including risk assessment of the business proposition and affordability of finance for the borrower
  3. Completion and submission of all required documentation relating to the lending decision
  4. Uploading and monitoring of data on the loan management system
  5. To contribute towards agreed delivery targets
  6. To promote the Company in order to raise profile as appropriate
  7. To maintain positive customer relationships with own portfolio clients
  8. Liaise with the Finance Officer regarding loan arrears and recovery actions
  9. Undertake any actions in respect of arrears cases as agreed with the Chief Executive
  10. Ensure all reporting requirements are kept up to date
  11. To undertake training as required to ensure compliance in regard to the FCA and other regulatory bodies as appropriate
  12. To manage your own Continuing Professional Development in consultation with the Chief Executive
  13. To work in accordance with the necessary procedures
  14. To actively and positively contribute to the staff review process and to follow up agreed actions
  15. To work at all times in accordance with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and to follow all company procedures and guidelines which assist this
  16. To work at all times in accordance with the company’s Dignity & Diversity Policy
  17. To undertake such other duties as may be required within the general scope of the job
    This job description may be subject to change, in consultation with the postholder, in response to new circumstances.
    Person Specification:
     Minimum 3 years’ proven experience in the SME lending sector
     Effective relationship management skills
     Ability to forge networks and generate new business
     Excellent interpersonal communication and presentation skills
     Ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
     Effective workload prioritisation and time management skills
     Computer literate (min. MS Office proficiency)
     Adaptable and a team player
     Ability and willingness to travel
     A commitment to the ethos of the Responsible Finance sector
     A degree or equivalent finance/business professional qualification
     Existing networks and contacts relevant to this position
     A good knowledge of the SME business base in the area of coverage
     Knowledge of FCA regulated lending
     Experience of CRM data inputting

How to Apply:

For a copy of the full job description and key terms, please email Louise Lawson at [email protected]

To apply, please email your CV and covering letter explaining why you think you are the best candidate to the Chief Executive at [email protected]   

To discuss the role informally, please contact Grahame Latus on 07817 182242.

Closing Date: Friday 10th July 2020.