Norfolk firm secures �1m from loan scheme

A Norfolk firm has become one of the first in the country to take advantage of chancellor George Osborne's new national loan guarantee scheme (NLGS) after securing about �1m of investment to fund fresh expansion plans.

Stalham-based Richardson's Group, whose businesses include boatbuilding, Broads cruisers and holiday villages, has secured the cash from its bankers Barclays, one of four of the UK's big banks to sign up to the �20bn scheme following its launch yesterday.

The aim of the NLGS which was first unveiled in last year's autumn statement, is to help boost growth by giving smaller business access to cheaper credit by shaving 1pc off the price of loans.

Greg Munford, chief executive of Richardson's said under the deal with Barclays the cashback element was worth about 3pc of the �1m it had borrowed and would allow development plans to be brought forward both in the boating and holiday businesses.

'What we are doing is funding the development of our next range of Broads cruisers,' Mr Munford said. 'Barclays pays the 1pc discount as cashback, which we can draw down on. For us it's a welcome cash injection and it means that straight away we are going to be able to produce seven new cruisers that have been in the design and development stage. The cash injection will also allow us to finish off the design work for a new class of cruiser.'

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He said the scheme will also allow the company to bring forward plans to redevelop its holiday home sites at Beach Road and the Seacroft Holiday Village in Hemsby, including a proposal for a hotel and the redevelopment of the existing chalets into a static caravan site.

'It's a 12 year plan, but we may look at bringing those plans forward,' he added. 'This is the first sign that the government's quantative easing funds has got through to businesses.'

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Under the Barclays scheme, SMEs who take out a loan will receive the full benefit of the NLGS discount immediately in the form of an upfront cashback. This will be calculated as 1 percentage point discount on their loan price over the first five years.

Steve Cooper, Managing Director at Barclays said: 'By giving our customers the full benefit of the NLGS on day one, they receive a lump sum of cash which they can put to use immediately to grow their business. We think this is more useful than drip feeding the value over the lifetime of a loan. SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy and we're delighted to be part of a scheme that means we can offer this new initiative to our customers. Barclays is open for business, last year we beat our Project Merlin lending commitments to SMEs and I encourage any SME that thinks it would benefit from financing to come and talk to us.'

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