Cookies Bakery and Confectioners has been a local presence in Raunds High Street, Oundle, Northamptonshire since 1995, providing its retail customer base with delicious breads, cakes, pastries and sweets. The founders of the business had built it from the ruins of a disused bakery into a modern facility complete with a bright and airy café. The bakery soon outgrew its humble beginnings though, moving to purpose built accommodation further down the road. The new space enabled them to extend their retail offering to include wholesale and to open another bakery outlet in the neighbouring village of Oundle.
The desire to retain its family run ethos of providing quality produce to local people was vitally important to Cookies’ founders, so when they decided to retire and sell the business they could think of no-one better to take it on than their loyal head baker Ian Smith. Ian had worked for Cookies for many years and he, along with fellow baker and colleague Mike, jumped at the opportunity.
Together with their financial advisor, the prospective business owners drew up a comprehensive proposal to obtain the finance they needed from their bank. Unfortunately, due to the perceived high-risk nature of the retail sector, Ian & Mike’s lack of direct experience in running a business coupled with inadequate security, the bank declined to support their request. Luckily though their financial advisor was aware of Foundation East’s offer to businesses that have been turned away from the mainstream finance providers.
“Cookies was a profitable business and Ian and Mike’s plans showed potential for a further growth in sales, particularly in the wholesale area. Both guys had extensive baking experience, and, coupled with Mike’s experience in managing staff and business finance, together with marketing support from a family member, I felt this team had everything necessary to ensure the continuing success of this business,” said Bob Shimmon, Foundation East’s Business Loans Manager.
“Bob worked with us until he was happy to recommend our application to Foundation East’s credit panel. He was very thorough yet accommodating and we knew within weeks that our loan had been approved,” said Mike.
The loan from Foundation East has enabled the founders of the original business to pass their thriving family run businesses on to someone they know and trust will carry on the traditions they started 20 years ago. The shops employ 16 people (9 full time and 8 part-time). All these jobs have been retained.
“The support and finance from Foundation East has enabled us to become masters of our own destiny. Dealing with Bob was a very personal experience. He actually talked and listened to us, rather than simply reading figures and ticking boxes. The business is viable otherwise our funding application would not have been approved, but because Foundation East listened to us, as well as looking at the figures, they could see past the need to tick boxes relating to experience and trading history to make a decision that mainstream providers could not,” concludes Mike.