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Start Up Loans delivers over £300million to UK microbusinesses

Government-backed programme has provided 46,400 loans to start-ups and early stage businesses since 2012.

£300m milestone passed as Start Up Loans Company announces merger with the British Business Bank.

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The Start Up Loans Company (SULCo) has passed a significant milestone this week, with the amount of lending it has provided totalling £300million since its inception five years ago. Co-founders of The Oystermen, Matt Lovell, 39 and Rob Hampton, 32, took the total past the £300million mark after securing the programme’s 46,400th loan to open their first oyster bar and seafood restaurant in Covent Garden.

The Start Up Loans programme provides loans of up to £25,000 at 6% fixed rate per annum, as well as offering dedicated mentoring to each business it supports. Since launching in 2012, it has supported an average of 11,200 new and early-stage businesses a year, and contributed to the creation of jobs for more than 55,700 individuals, with over 19,800 loans issued to people who were either NEET or who declared they were unemployed at the time of draw down.

Commenting on the passing of the £300 million milestone, Small Business Minister Margot James said: “Giving the UK’s small businesses the jump-start they need to grow and thrive is a key priority of our Industrial Strategy and it’s great to see just how many small businesses the Government-backed Start Up Loans Company has helped in the past five years.

“We rely on small businesses for jobs as well as goods and services so I’m particularly pleased to see that Start Up Loans money has created more than 55,700 jobs and has helped over 19,000 formerly unemployed people put their business plans into action.”

Tim Sawyer, CEO of the Start Up Loans Company, added: “Providing more than 46,400 loans to businesses across the UK is a testament to the drive and ambition of people throughout the country. The Oystermen is a great example of a business idea which has been brought to life with a Start Up Loan. They now have a solid business plan in place which will see them grow their footprint across London and bring oysters to more seafood lovers in the capital and beyond.”

The Oystermen have experience launching restaurants across the capital, but decided they wanted to embark on their own venture and started a pop-up in South Kensington in September 2016. On the back of its success, Matt and Rob had the idea to take it to the next level and open a restaurant, ‘The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen’, and approached the Start Up Loans Company which provided them with £25,000 of funding each, to pay the lease deposit and support the purchase of kitchen appliances.

The business sources its fresh oysters direct from over 10 farms across the UK, spanning from Menai in Wales down to Porthilly and Fal in Cornwall, and as the business grows it looks to expand the supplier list to oyster farms throughout Ireland.

The launch of ‘The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen’ will see the business employ a head chef, a sous chef, front of house and restaurant manager. The Oystermen expects to see a 300 per cent turnover growth in the next 12 months with the launch of its new restaurant. It also plans to grow its catering arm of the business and launch a packaged goods offering.

Matt Lovell, co-founder of The Oystermen, said: “We have experienced a high demand for our oysters and seafood at our pop-up store, and the next stage for our development was to take our concept and bring it to life in a restaurant environment. As a small business, access to finance can put a strain on working capital so the funding from the Start Up Loans Company was vital to enable us to push the button on our growth plans. We’re now gearing up for a busy few months ahead of our official launch, and we look forward to what’s to come in the near future.”

Achieving the £300million milestone comes as the Start Up Loans Company announces it has merged with the British Business Bank – the UK’s national business development bank – which currently supports more than 54,000 businesses, working with over 90 finance partners. The Bank and the Start Up Loans Company have been working closely since 2014. During this period, the Bank has been providing advice to Government on the Start Up Loans programme’s funding, objectives and performance, and overseeing the programme on its behalf.

The merger brings a number of advantages to both organisations, including sharing of expertise, clarity for the small business community and the opportunity to combine approaches used for supporting smaller businesses. Whilst SULCo will continue to deal with borrowers and delivery partners as usual, the move will help both organisations deliver the Government’s manifesto commitment to support 75,000 microbusinesses by 2020. Under the new structure, CEO of the Start Up Loans Company, Tim Sawyer, will report into Keith Morgan who will now be the Chair of SULCo board.

Commenting on the merger, Tim Sawyer, CEO of the Start Up Loans Company, said: “Since launching in 2012, the Start Up Loans Company, with support from the British Business Bank, has lent £300million to microbusinesses across the UK. This merger recognises how successful our partnership with the Bank has been and helps us improve our support for businesses who may struggle to access other forms of finance.”

Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, added: “The Bank has been working closely with the Start Up Loans Company for several years and this merger will bring the two organisations, which already have a shared sense of purpose and complementary skills, closer together. This is a natural next step, an exciting moment for everyone involved, and means we can deliver a better service for smaller businesses.