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Alternative business lender Enterprise Answers has gone live as a delivery partner for the new Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) in the North of England.

Enterprise Answers will deliver loans from £25,001 to £100,000 via the government-backed Scheme to support the growth and recovery of businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19.

The not-for-profit lender has delivered its highest ever volume of lending during 2020/21, to businesses during the pandemic through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Administered on behalf of the Government by the British Business Bank and delivered through accredited delivery partners such as Enterprise Answers, RLS funding can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including to manage cashflow and facilitate investment and growth.

Businesses that have already taken out Covid finance support, such as CBILS or BBLS facilities, are eligible for RLS.

Grahame Latus, Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, said:

“We are delighted to have been accredited as a delivery partner for the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) and to be working with the British Business Bank once again to ensure that businesses in our region can access the finance they need to emerge stronger from the pandemic.”

“Our commitment to supporting businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic has never wavered, which ultimately saw us deliver CBILS funding to a diverse range of SMEs across our region.”

“It is important that we now ensure businesses can access the finance they need to grow and recover, which will be crucial as the economy begins to unwind from an intense period of lockdown and disruption. Government-backed lender guarantees such as RLS can help lenders turn a ‘no’ credit decision into a ‘yes’.

“We have been impressed with the resilience and tenacity of small businesses through an unprecedented and incredibly challenging period in history. Enterprise Answers has an experienced and knowledgeable team who are committed to doing all we possibly can to support businesses right now, so please do not hesitate to get in touch or submit an online enquiry to kickstart your growth or recovery plans.”

The not-for-profit lender has been supporting businesses that are unable to access finance from traditional lenders for the past 16 years and has a Covid-safe loan process in operation.

The Recovery Loan Scheme 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.

Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire Dales based businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic should visit to discover more about Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS), check eligibility and submit an online enquiry.

When car enthusiast, Gary Winfield took a leap of faith with a new start-up aged 50, he could not have predicted the journey that would unfold.

Many entrepreneurs begin their journeys at a young age by taking opportunities that come their way and following a passion. This was certainly the case for Gary Winfield who set up his very first business at the age of 22, selling mobile phones and car electronics. His growing interest in  cars was well timed, coinciding with the 90’s boom in performance tuning and modifications across the UK. Gary began to diversify the business to meet demand, building up a portfolio of shops around Essex and forging strategic partnerships within the industry.

Several years later Gary was head hunted by a vehicle enhancements operation to work in the U.S.A. He took the decision to wind up and sell his beloved business and he and his wife moved to Florida. The venture didn’t last however, and after several years the couple returned to the UK and their family.

“I’d fallen out of love with the industry and felt I needed a change of career”, Gary says.

“We moved to a new area of the country [Lancashire] where some friends were living and set up our lives again”.

Before long, his passion for cars and restoration had resumed. Gary bought a couple of classic cars to restore in his spare time. This was a turning point in his career and in 2017 Gary decided to once again return to the industry that he loved.  

“I was leaving a well-paid job that I enjoyed and was starting again from scratch. It was the hardest decision I’ve even made. I asked myself if I should be doing this at fifty but something spurred me on.”

“I knew I loved cars. I knew I loved talking to people about cars. I knew I loved working on cars and taking a blank canvas; something that needs some real care and attention and turning it back into someone’s dream car.”

Gary found a business premises in Lancashire and set up his new venture, ‘Klassic Toyz’ to offer a professional classic car restoration service. Whilst working on customers cars, Gary came across a gap in the market.

He says, “I noticed a lack of readily available products for cleaning classic vehicles. The products used on modern cars are too abrasive for classics and can easily damage the paintwork. I was finding it difficult to source the right products, so I decided to create my own.

“I spoke to specialist chemical companies, undertook some research and formed a range of specialist cleaning products that would be safe and eco-friendly for both old and new cars. Over the past three years I’ve expanded the range and I now sell 27 unique products under the brand, Klassic Kleen.”

The growth in the business necessitated a move to a larger premises that could house a purpose-designed detailing studio and extra workshop space. After a brief search, Gary came across a new unit at Preesall Over Wyre. In October 2019, he began a full refurbishment and refit of the new premises, with a grand opening planned for March 2020.

“To my complete dismay, the government announced the lockdown one week before our opening.  We contacted all our clients, car clubs, industry contacts and the friends that we’d invited, to tell them that the opening event wouldn’t be going ahead. In the end, we held just a small gathering. I took it all personally and spent two weeks wallowing and feeling really down.”

Like many other business owners, when the pandemic struck Gary was left feeling unsettled and unsure about what the future would hold for his business. Then he had a lightbulb moment.

“Suddenly I realised that I was in exactly the same position as all my competitors and that the coronavirus pandemic was going to level the playing field somewhat. Now was the time to elevate the business, introduce new concepts and drive brand awareness. I applied for available government help and received a grant which I could use to update the business branding. I had a clear vision of how I wanted the brand to look and be perceived, but I needed some advice.”

“I’d met Grahame [Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers] two years previous at a business event and we’d spoken at length about the business. He’d left me his details and offered his help should I need it in the future. I made the call and we set up a meeting. I discussed my ideas with Grahame and he gave me the reassurance and support to progress them.”

After a successful rebrand, Gary began to pursue his other concepts for the business, saying, “I wanted the business to offer something different and unique. I knew that I liked talking to people about cars, and spending time discussing my work with customers. I’d always liked the idea of giving back to the community and I was interested in developing a concept for an educational programme that I could offer to disadvantaged youngsters within the local community.”

“I had an idea of creating a second floor in the studio where customers could comfortably wait whilst their car was worked on or where car enthusiasts could meet up and chat. This would also be the perfect space and facility to hold talks and educational workshops.” 

“I knew I would need some investment to achieve my dream, so in November I got back in contact with Enterprise Answers. Having an already-established relationship with Grahame and the team was a huge benefit. We talked through my ideas and the loan application process and then they arranged the loan. The whole process was made easy because they were so approachable, it wasn’t like the corporate transactions that you would have with a bank.”

As an independent, not-for-profit lender, Enterprise Answers are able to offer a different service from banks and traditional lending organisations. Their approach offers appropriate lending alongside a knowledgeable relationship-based service, providing long-term support to businesses in order to create tangible value and a positive impact.

Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers said, “It has been a pleasure for us engaging with Gary and providing the assistance required to enable him to realise his creativity & unleash his potential.

“We have nurtured him along the way, helping him to pull his business proposition together and the loan we have provided has enabled an amazing transformation of his business unit, which opens the door to so many other opportunities for his business. The future for Klassic Toyz is as bright as the cars he has finished working on!”

“This is a great example of our client engagement where we have listened, understood and delivered.”

Speaking about the project, Gary says “Creating the new first floor coffee lounge facility, which we’ve named The Pit Stop Lounge, has been the single biggest achievement with the business to date; not just because it’s our unique concept but also because it brings together those important elements of the business; community, passion, learning and education.”

To find out more about Klassic Toyz/ Klassic Kleen, visit

A reflection of the past sixteen years from Chief Executive, Grahame Latus

“You guys won’t last twelve months doing what you’re doing”, a statement I keep reminding myself of as each anniversary passes from when we opened our doors to business on 1st March 2005, some sixteen years ago.

Taking the telephone call less than a week after we opened, from a known Business Adviser who made the above remark was somewhat disappointing. Clearly the individual had no understanding of our remit and lacked the vision to appreciate, that what we were setting out to achieve would actually benefit the clients he was tasked to work with.

If he had asked, I probably would have shared with him the two years research previously undertaken which evidenced the need for an alternative source of business finance for business in Cumbria. Evidence which clearly highlighted, that no matter how well served the county was by mainstream banking services, there were still business’s in the county which were falling through the eligibility cracks of the big banks and meant many were being deprived of access to capital for growth, expansion, equipment, etc and with that, the opportunity to create and/or safeguard jobs which fuel the local economy.

Enterprise Answers supporting local businesses through This is Cumbria

Our remit has never been to compete with the banks, but rather to focus on those marginal, yet viable, lending propositions which the banks have a limited appetite for, whatever their reason and to provide businesses with the finance required to achieve their aspirations to start, grow and develop into long term enterprises, creating a positive economic impact in the regions they operate.

But how do we differ from the mainstream? Simply by applying the good old-fashioned principles of judgmental lending, remembering the days when you could talk to your bank manager and he or she, through their knowledge of you and appreciation of your business (or the business idea if you were starting out) would then make their decision to lend, or not. At Enterprise Answers, our values are based upon similar principles, we make the lending decisions at our Penrith office and we make them locally, without resorting to credit scoring and we treat each lending application on its own merits as we really do appreciate, no two businesses are the same. For us, it’s about the people behind the business, as they at the end of the day are the decision makers and this is a key area of focus for us.

Since March 2005 we have lent millions of pounds to hundreds of businesses across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire but for us, its not about these volumes, but rather the impact those businesses which we have invested in make, enabling them to prosper, grow and add value to everyday lives, communities and the economy. Some of those businesses were known brands locally and have since our investment, grown to be national if not, international brands.

We have weathered the storm of the financial crisis in 2007/8 when the economic crash occurred, forcing many banks to retreat into a risk averse shell bringing the lending shutters down, yet we soldiered on to assist those businesses in need. In 2020 we found ourselves in the midst of yet another economic crisis, brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and again we rose to the challenge to assist the Government and the economy, through being one of the first Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme (CBILS) accredited delivery partners, providing the valued financial support businesses sought to navigate the unprecedented crisis.

We are not a big team, but we do pack a mighty punch with a collective belief that we can provide viable businesses with the financial support they need when mainstream lenders are unable to oblige. Competing with mainstream lenders is not our aim but if we can say ‘yes’ to a proposition when other lenders cannot, then we will endeavor to assist, create opportunity, unleash potential and there is a lot of it about, as we have witnessed some amazing business innovation during the pandemic. We engage with a wide range of partners, both nationally and locally, enabling us to connect our clients to a diverse range of business support and add value to any financial package we may offer.

If you are a business based in Cumbria, Lancashire or the Yorkshire Dales in need of financial assistance to develop, expend, grow or even start your own business, you have an alternative lender on your doorstep who will take the time to listen, understand and deliver. Visit our website ( and let us know if we can help.

Today, the Enterprise Answers team may currently be operating remotely due to the pandemic, but we will raise a glass to the past and future years, to acknowledge the team for their unwavering commitment, our Board of Directors for their unrelenting support and to toast our 16th anniversary, the one we were told we would not reach!

Not-for-profit lender, Enterprise Answers reflect on the unique challenges and achievements of 2020 for businesses in the North West.

During a year which has brought about so many uncertainties and difficulties, it was important for us to recognise and celebrate the achievements and successes we have been a part of, no matter how big or small. 

The ethos behind our organisation has always been about enabling businesses to realise & unleash their potential through appropriate finance. Much of the support we provided to businesses in 2020 was about enabling businesses to temporarily protect and safeguard through appropriate finance, in order to allow those businesses to survive and flourish long-term.

No-one could have predicted the way in which 2020 was to unfold at the start of the year. The news reports of a virus outbreak in China bore little impact until case numbers in the UK began to grow and the FTSE 100 fell. Businesses began to worry and seek advice for a situation that they had never experienced before.

Once the chancellor announced the Government’s intention on 16th March to make £330bn available to businesses affected by the virus in loan guarantees, many businesses began to plan for a crisis with many unknowns. 

We were approached by the British Business Bank to become an accredited lending partner to a new scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) which would launch on 23rd March. 

As Cumbria’s only accredited delivery partner, we anticipated a rush of enquiries from businesses. We quickly set up a system to handle all the enquiries, knowing what a worrying time it was for business owners. By the time the first lockdown was announced on 23rd March, trading conditions and the marketplace changed dramatically. The phone began to ring and emails pinged in.

Every trading business suddenly found themselves having to respond and take swift action to the changing situation. Every company with employees had to make decisions based on the limited knowledge and guidance available, whether it be to stop trading and furlough their staff or to change their business processes to enable staff to work from home or to source and introduce new PPE to continue to work safely.  

Just as for everyone else, our team had to review our working situation and we quickly re-organised our infrastructure to allow home working. We are fortunate to have a small but hard-working team that are used to working closely together and can be totally flexible and adaptable, which stood us in good stead for the months ahead.

On 21st April, The Toy Shop in Cockermouth became our first business to receive a funding boost through the CBILS scheme. The husband and wife owners, Jonty and Fiona Chippendale, took the decision to close the shop but realised that without a cash injection, they wouldn’t be able to buy stock and recommence trading on the other side of the pandemic. When we were approached by Jonty, we knew it was a business we wanted to work with. In the end it took just 4 working days from picking up the application, to assess it, approve it and deposit the funds in their business bank account.

Another business that we were able to assist through the CBILS scheme was third generation cheesemakers, Mrs Kirkhams. The business saw a 75% cut in their trade overnight after lockdown, but with the farm’s outgoings to cover the owners knew they needed financial help to see them through. Once the loan had been approved, the business had breathing space to allow them to pivot and begin to sell direct to customers.

Lancashire-based manufacturer Darwen Terracotta approached us shortly after lockdown. The owners were eager to find a way to safeguard the business with its 120 years of heritage and specialist skilled workforce. They had put two thirds of their staff on furlough and worked out what amount they would need to assist their cash flow, based on a worst-case scenario. Having the money in the bank ultimately allowed them to keep their production going and their workforce employed.

We were delighted to learn of a recent success from a business that we supported prior to the pandemic. The historic Lancaster inn,  Plau has been granted Grade II listed status by Historic England, a real accolade to the whole team involved in the project! The premises was bought by the current owners, Jeremy and Rebecca Rowlands in 2014 and they set about transforming the building into a pub. In 2017 we provided finance for the renovation and it successfully opened as a destination venue in 2019.

Another highlight of the year for us was being a part of the very first North West Family Business Awards, held under the wings of Concorde at Manchester Airport in early March. We are passionate about family businesses and being involved with the event allows us to further support the sector. This year we sponsored the People’s Choice award for Lancashire and it was a privilege to see so many super family businesses enter and of course the ultimate winners, Pendle Doors Ltd be crowned. What a super celebration of family business success the event was!

Overall, despite the obvious challenges and difficulties that 2020 brought, we have been pleased to be able to continue making a positive difference to businesses within Cumbria, North Lancashire and the Yorkshire Dales.

As an independent, not-for-profit lender, our interests have always differed from those of the banks. What is important to us is to support businesses where appropriate lending can create value and a positive impact, whether that be through providing benefits to the wider community, safeguarding jobs or preserving rich heritage.

In 2021 we aim to continue to support businesses in this way, with not only a strong lending capacity but also with our knowledge and expertise and a team that offers a relationship-based service for businesses long-term.

Our message to businesses for 2021 is to try to remain upbeat and positive, to continue with your business plans where possible and to look ahead to the future in the knowledge that government support will be available. Finally, we would like to take the opportunity to send everyone our very best wishes for the year ahead.

Ten years ago, Bruce Brown and Luke Jackson teamed up to run a coffee lounge in Carlisle. Back then, they could never have foreseen the whirlwind journey this venture would take them on.

When the previous owners relocated to London, the two entrepreneurs took over the reins of the Foxes Café in Carlisle, fuelled with energy, enthusiasm and coffee.

The learning curve was steep admitted Luke, saying “Neither of us had run our own business before but we liked the sound of it. We knew there would be some challenges, but we weren’t quite prepared for the huge ups and downs that followed. Initially we adopted a beg, borrow and steal approach to get the business up and running, along with help from family and friends”.

As they worked together tackling the inevitable array of issues and tasks that the hospitality sector is known for, they gained vital knowledge and experience that would serve them down the road.

“Every time we encountered a problem, we dealt with it by saying let’s address this, solve it and then make what we’re doing better” said Luke. The duo believe that it is largely down to their can-do attitude that has driven them to where they are now.

After three years of running Foxes Café, Bruce and Luke began to toy with the idea of roasting their own coffee. It would combine their shared love of great coffee with an opportunity to secure the supply of consistency high quality speciality coffee for their cafe. Bruce and Luke’s Coffee business was born.

Luke explained, “We sought out help from a top coffee roasting specialist to source a roaster. We trialled a batch, which started out okay and got better and better as we refined the process”.

In addition to learning the art of coffee roasting, Bruce and Luke then began operating a wholesale business. Luke says, “This was very different from running a consumer business. We established some great partnerships with regional retailers and coffee houses, but we knew early on that we wanted Bruce and Luke’s to be a consumer business too”.

The first Bruce and Luke’s Coffee shop opened its doors in 2014 on Abbey Street, Carlisle serving its own brand of coffee and delicious donuts. Luke said “The timing was perfect. The cool coffee scene hadn’t really arrived in Cumbria and so we were introducing something different. We felt that by adding donuts to our offering would give the brand a friendly, fun vibe that injected some of our personality in and kept any pretentiousness out. And anyway, who doesn’t love donuts?

“By producing our own coffee and baking our own amazing donuts, we could ensure great quality as standard. The difference in what we offer customers is the excellent service and the fun and vibrant environment that we create through employing enthusiastic staff that love what they do”.

The success of the first Bruce and Luke’s coffee shop inspired the duo to announce ambitious plans for the future of the business. One hundred stores by 2029, no less!

As they began to look for their next venue, a proprietor in Keswick approached them. Luke said, “The location was perfect. Keswick didn’t have anywhere offering great quality food and coffee to go”.

The pair began to make plans for the second Bruce and Luke’s Coffee shop and looked at funding options. “Our bank, The Cumberland didn’t have the right product for us”, said Luke. “We were recommended to speak to Grahame at Enterprise Answers, who was able to come up with a good solution. We found them really supportive of our plans to grow the business.”

Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Grahame Latus said, “When Bruce & Luke approached us for finance to establish the Keswick outlet, we literally had no hesitation in offering our support as their brand spoke volumes. We were proud to help them grow their business presence in the heart of the Lakes and enable them to serve a wider global audience.”

Luke added, “We were seeking finance based on the projected profit. Going through the application process, we felt totally confident in our brand, our business model and our profitability. We were looking for a loan that would finance our business growth, confident of a return in the investment.”

Grahame said, “Bruce & Luke have demonstrated an incredible entrepreneurial flair and have channelled their energy & passion through their team to deliver a refreshing customer experience. Coffee & donuts is a simple concept, but it works particularly well because of the style with which it is delivered.”

Luke Jackson

The second Bruce and Luke’s Coffee shop opened in Keswick in July 2020, after a soft launch just before lockdown. Luke admits, “Covid was terrifying. Obviously, we had worries and there were new issues to contend with but there’s always something that changes the game you’re playing; you just have to roll with it.

“There was a fantastic reception to the new shop. The support from our social media following has been amazing and during the first few weeks, we had queues outside.”

Grahame added, “Bruce & Luke have demonstrated an entrepreneurial flair that knows no boundaries. These guys will go far and their offering has shown an incredible resilience during these challenging months by serving products which put a smile on people’s faces.”

To find out more about Bruce and Luke’s Coffee, visit

Located in East Lancashire, heartland of the Industrial Revolution lies a business that is home to generations of skilled artisan craftspeople. They are creators of architectural terracotta and faience (glazed terracotta) products, that first became popular after the First World War.

During the last century, this specialist workforce has played a major part in the restoration of some of Britain’s landmark buildings. The business survived two world wars and a management buyout but was left in a precarious position after the outbreak of COVID-19.

The origins of Darwen Terracotta date back to 1897, when in its previous form as ‘Shaws of Darwen’, they produced decorative finishes in terracotta for the many opulent civic monuments commissioned during the Victorian era.

Fast forward 118 years later to 2015, when Shaws of Darwen decided to close the architectural terracotta division to focus on their fireclay sink business, the opportunity arose for former employees to set up a new business, employing the very same, skilled craftspeople.

Business partners behind Darwen Terracotta, Steve Allen and Jon Wilson describe the company as ‘a new name, with old hands’. Both already had experience in working for the firm in senior positions when the terracotta division was closed and neither wanted to see the specialist skills of the workforce lost.

Steve said, “Jon and I began to make a plan. We felt there was still a market for the terracotta products and we didn’t want to see some forty employees made redundant.”

“The company was one of only three manufacturers of architectural terracotta and faience products in the world, and there was a lot of prestigious buildings in the UK that had these finishes, requiring restoration at some point”.

“We set up the new company and found a premises in September 2015. One of our first contracts was restoring various sections of the historic Wigan Town Hall. We have subsequently completed restoration work on the Royal Albert Hall, Harrods department store, the Natural History Museum and the Savoy Hotel to name just a few.”

Alongside their senior team, they began to develop the business, showcasing their work at national shows and exhibitions, leading to some exciting sculptural commissions and new build projects. They also decided to utilise the workforce’s prior experience in handmade sink production to once again, begin producing fireclay sinks, launched under their new brand in March this year. Shortly after this, the county went into lockdown and the business was seriously affected.

Steve said, “The lockdown made a huge impact. We are fifty percent down on our forecast sales this quarter. All planned projects have been delayed.

“After the lockdown was announced, we knew that we would need financial help to get us through this period. We put two thirds of our staff through the government job retention scheme and worked out what amount we would need to assist our cash flow, based on a worst-case scenario.

“We wrote to our bank but after receiving no reply, we searched for lenders in our area and found Enterprise Answers. We began the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme application process with them which involved talking through our business plan over the phone. Once the loan had been approved, the money was in our bank in under a week.

“Having the money in the bank has allowed us to keep production going and keep our workforce employed. After achieving year on year growth since 2016, we can’t wait to get the business back on track and thriving once more”.

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, “It was a pleasure, if not a privilege, to be able to assist Darwen Terracotta Limited with a CBILS loan which enabled the safeguarding of 40 jobs. The company is an exemplar of all that is good about British skilled artisan craftsmanship and boasts an impressive portfolio of its works across the UK and abroad.”

Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers

“Darwen Terracotta Limited have built a tremendous business model over the last five years which has seen year on year growth. CBILS was designed with businesses like this in mind, to preserve the growth, the jobs, the skills and create a financial platform from which the business can emerge from the pandemic, just as strong as ever.”

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).

To find out more about the fascinating work of Darwen Terracotta visit

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).

Glasses were raised earlier this month when Plau, a historic family-owned pub in Preston won the ‘Conversion Award’ at CAMRA’s prestigious Pub Design Awards.

The awards, which were celebrated in a virtual pub on 7th May, are held annually in conjunction with Historic England and celebrate exceptional pubs across the country that have undergone conversion or conservation work, or are newly built.

Plau was bought in 2014 by husband and wife team, Jeremy and Rebecca Rowlands after they took an interest in the fascinating history behind the premises. Built in 1668 as a butcher’s shop, Plau was first converted into a pub in 1795. However, it was closed in 1913 and would have to wait a further 105 years to be restored and reopened as a pub once more by the duo, with support and financial backing from regional independent lender, Enterprise Answers.

Jeremy Rowlands, owner of Plau said, “We had this romantic notion of a place lost in history and set out plans for its renovation, which quickly escalated into a much bigger project.

“We ended up purchasing a second part of the building, within which we uncovered an 18th century subterranean gin distillery, that has now become our vaulted cellar bar. We also found a 40ft medieval well in the cellar that housed pieces of pottery and historic bottles, which we’ve collated into a display cabinet of curiosities inside Plau”.

Their visionary renovation to bring to reality the four-storey gin and beer house required substantial funds but the couple were unable to obtain finance from their bank. Undeterred, they discussed the matter with their broker who recommended Enterprise Answers.

Grahame Latus, Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers said, “Jeremy and Rebecca approached us in 2017 seeking finance for their renovation project.  Looking at their good track record with similar establishments in the area, it didn’t take us long to realise that they had the creativity and potential to unleash a new cultural venue in Preston.

“We invested a six figure sum over eighteen months, allowing their expanding renovation work to be completed. From when we first visited the site, it was a fascinating project to watch.

“It was a challenging project due to the historical nature of the building, but the finished result has certainly been worth the wait. It’s easy to discard the past sometimes, but the entrepreneurialism of Jeremy and Rebecca shone through in their creative vision to bring history tastefully to the fore at Plau.”

Jeremy commented, “Tony, Louise and Grahame at Enterprise Answers were so supportive right from the start. We found their hands-on approach refreshing and it was important to us that they were genuinely interested and enthusiastic about our project”.

Grahame added, “We have derived a lot of pleasure from investing in Jeremy and Rebecca’s project at Plau and we are delighted that their hard work has been recognised with the CAMRA award”.

Speaking about their Pub Design Awards win, Jeremy said “A member of CAMRA had become aware of our project and we were put forward for the Conversion Award. We submitted the application in summer last year and were blown away when we were announced as the winner”.

Andrew Davidson, Chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Awards judging panel said “Jeremy Rowlands and their designers, Loe Design have turned a disused and run-down building into a highly attractive pub, its refurbishment informed both by the known history of the building and by features uncovered during the work. Everything has been done with great care and with quality materials. The result is striking – a traditional pub re-imagined for the 21st century!”

From brunch to dinner, great food & drink on the menu

To find out more about Plau visit 

On 21st April, The Toy Shop in Cockermouth became the first business to receive a funding boost through Cumbria’s only accredited delivery partner for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Enterprise Answers.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is designed to support the continued provision of finance to UK smaller businesses (SME’s) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme enables lenders to provide facilities of up to £5m to smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. It supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities.

Independent lender and family-business supporter, Enterprise Answers are offering the government backed CBILS loan facility to family and non-family SME’s based in either Cumbria, North Lancashire or the Yorkshire Dales.

Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Grahame Latus (pictured)  said, “For us it’s about enabling businesses to realise & unleash their potential through the provision of appropriate finance.

Grahame Latus

“We are proud to be the only Cumbria based CBILS Delivery Partner, of some 48 nationwide and we will endeavour to assist as many SME’s as we can through these challenging times.”

The Toy Shop in Cockermouth run by husband and wife team, Jonty and Fiona Chippendale has been a feature of the towns bustling high street for over twenty years. When the government announced the first measures to control the virus, the couple discussed their response;

“We made the decision that it would be too tricky to trade without risk of spreading the disease so we let all our customers and suppliers know that we would close” said Jonty.

“We sat down and looked at our cash flow and it quickly became obvious that if we didn’t get a cash injection, we wouldn’t be able to buy stock and recommence trading on the other side”.

Sadly, enduring hard times is familiar territory for the family business, having been flooded twice during the last several years. Owner Jonty believes this has equipped them with the necessary skills to deal with such challenges, saying “Dealing with adversity has prepared us for coping with tricky situations. If you look around, help is always there.

“This time we knew we couldn’t predict how bad the situation might get, so we set out to apply for all the available help in order to plan for the worst-case scenario”.

“We spoke to our accountant about the situation, who recommended Enterprise Answers to us as a suitable lender. We had begun discussions with our own bank but found it was impossible to make any progress.”

For lender, Enterprise Answers, once the details of the scheme and the accredited partners and lenders were announced by the government, hundreds of enquiries from businesses across the region followed.

“We had to quickly set up a system to efficiently handle all the enquiries coming in, knowing what a worrying time it is for business owners. We enlisted the Family Business Network to assist us with managing those initial enquiries.” said Grahame.

Sue Howorth, Founder and Co-Director of The Family Business Network said, “Enterprise Answers have been closely involved with the work that our Network does within the family business community for several years and they are a fantastic advocate of family businesses. When they approached us to help with the administration of the first stage of the CBILS process, we were more than happy to lend a hand.”

Grahame explained, “These are unprecedented times for businesses, especially the independent retailers who perhaps are feeling the economic impact hardest if they are unable to trade during the current Government lock down. When we were approached by Jonty from The Toy Shop at Cockermouth, we knew it was a business we had to work with.”

“Jonty & his wife Fiona were fantastic to engage with, they fully appreciated our application process and ensured that we had all the information we needed to assess their application for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme”

Grahame added, “In fact, the information was spot on and it took just 4 working days from picking up the application, to assess it, approve it and deposit the funds in their business bank account. The Toy Shop became the first CBILS loan that we released.”

Speaking about the CBILS application process, Jonty said, “Embarking on an application like this is always a little daunting at first but it was very manageable. Our experience was that aside from the money being essential, the application itself was a useful exercise to go through, as we realised that we hadn’t sat down and done a business plan for a while.

“The process helped us to think through the what if’s and to crystallise what we’d do on the other side. With the help of Enterprise Answers, we were able to apply for the loan quickly. Our advice to other family businesses is not to bury your head in the sand, but be realistic about the situation, look at what help you need and then make a start”.

Grahame of Enterprise Answers added, “Working with businesses such as The Toy Shop will help to ensure that when we emerge from this lockdown, Cumbria retains many of the characteristics that help make it one of the most desirable places to visit.”

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 lends its support again as Cumbria’s dynamic producers prepare for the UK’s leading food trade event.

A forward-thinking group of Cumbrian businesses and supporters are preparing to attend the three-day Farm Shop & Deli Show at the NEC between 30th March and 1st April 2020.

The ‘This is Cumbria’ collective will once again be taking their branded destination stand, following the success of their first trade event in April 2019.

Initiated by Maria Whitehead of Hawkshead Relish and Lisa Smith of Ginger Bakers in 2018, a group of Cumbrian producers came together to create a ‘big impact’ trade stand that would position the very best of the county’s food, drink and produce in front of the 30,000 key buyers and visitors that the event attracts.

With several new Cumbrian producers on board for 2020 and the continued support pledged by a group of sponsors, the collective aims to build upon last year’s achievements by developing national awareness and championing Cumbrian brands.

The organisers hope to attract attention at the show not only with their unique stand, but through an interactive live stage session to be held on 1st April. The session, ‘Walking in their shoes – what customers really want’ will be led by This is Cumbria partners, Thomas Jardine & Co and The Family Business Network, and will encourage delegates to think like a customer as they sample some delicious Cumbrian produce.  

Keith Jackson of Thomas Jardine & Co said, “We are looking forward to the opportunity to engage with the crowds, draw some extra interest to the stand and tell people what This is Cumbria is all about. Last year, there was a really vibrant feel to our stand and the unique look and concept created plenty of interest amongst the visitors.”

The initiative was able to get off the ground with support from a number of committed Cumbrian sponsors including Cartmell Shepherd, Enterprise Answers, Eclectic Creative, Liberty Workware and Printing Plus who between them, pledged their support for the initiative through funding of the unique ‘Showcase Area’, assisting with uniforms, branding, design and printing.

Mark Morrison of brand consultancy, Eclectic Creative said, “It is great to see such passion for their products in this group of Cumbrian brands. We work with many of them, so when they asked us if we would create their collective branding it was easy to say yes. We are delighted to be involved in championing Cumbria and the superb products and services that originate from this amazing county.”

Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers commented, Over the years, Enterprise Answers has assisted a number of Cumbria’s food & drink producers, helping them to either start, develop or expand their businesses, with many going on to be award winners. Being a sponsor of This is Cumbria was a natural fit for Enterprise Answers which endorses our support and commitment to this growing sector full of creativity, diversity and quality”

The ‘This is Cumbria’ line up of businesses exhibiting within the unique ‘Showcase Area’ in 2020 include Shed 1 Distillery, Molly Rose Drinks, Cakes from the Lakes, Hawkshead Brewery, Pie Mill, Eden Valley Meat Company and Vies Jamaican Rum Cake. Surrounding them on larger stands will be Hawkshead Relish, Ginger Bakers, Farrers Tea & Coffee, Vegware, Kin Vodka, Lakeland Artisan and Penningtons Liqueurs.   

Exhibitor, Maria Whitehead MBE co-owner of Hawkshead Relish commented: “The Farm Shop & Deli Show is a must attend food and drink show in our annual event calendar. It’s a great opportunity to meet up with new and existing customers, and at the same time spend time networking with industry colleagues and other exhibitors. Since its inception it has become a great vehicle for showcasing Cumbria’s food and drink producers to a much wider audience. By exhibiting as part of This is Cumbria, we can maximise these opportunities, shout louder, share information and even develop collaborative relationships, which will see us all benefit.”

Sue Howorth of The Family Business Network, one of the partners of the initiative said, “This is Cumbria offers a wonderful platform for businesses, giving them a voice outside of the county. It’s particularly beneficial for those who may not have exhibited at large trade shows before as the collective brings exhibitors together to provide friendly and professional support for one another, as well as pre-show PR and social media build up and extra coverage during the show”.

The Farm Shop & Deli Show takes place at the NEC from 30th March -1st April 2020.

This is Cumbria have two 2x2m trade stands remaining as well as sponsorship opportunities for businesses wishing to get involved.  

For more information or if you are interested in exhibiting with ‘This is Cumbria’, contact Keith Jackson on [email protected] or visit

More information about the 2020 Farm Shop and Deli Show can be found at

Below: Food writer Nigel Barden with Maria Whitehead and Jonathan Robb of Hawkshead Relish at the Farm Shop & Deli Show 2019

A group of people posing for the camera

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Below: Claire of Molly Rose Drinks exhibiting within the Showcase Area of This is Cumbria at the Farm Shop & Deli Show 2019