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Hettie's Tearoom is all set for growth

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Hettie's Tearoom customers enjoying afternoon tea

Location: Pitlochry

Year Founded: 2010

Sector: Tourism/Hospitality

Number of staff: 14-18

9 years ago, Clare Pinchbeck opened Hettie’s Tearoom in Pitlochry. Named after her daughter Henrietta, it has since expanded to include an online tea shop and a bakery/takeaway in Dunkeld. Not only do the 32 exclusive, house-blended teas and micro-roasted coffee give Hettie’s a competitive edge but also the genuine strive for growth and strong brand values. Their vision is to be the happiest tea room in the world; where every customer leave’s happier than when they walked in.

UMi Debt Finance Scotland's business loan will help them fast-track their growth projects, which include the development of their online tea business, a re-brand of their products, and financing of equipment to increase their menu and improve their service. We asked Clare a few questions to get some insight into her business and find out why our business loan fund was ideal to fund her growth ambitions.

Can you remember a particularly good day in the business? What happened?

Clare: There have been so many. Because I see myself more as a business owner rather than a lady who runs a tea room, the business milestones are what I enjoy most. It makes me very proud when we hit our goals, grow our turnover (which we did every year) or even get the VAT return done on time.

I also get a summary of the reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google. The best days are when we get all 5-star reviews because I do labour over those that are less than 5.

What are your growth plans in general?

Clare: I have great ambitions to expand the brand and open more premises in the future. But the real growth of the business is the teas. And this side of the business can grow quite organically without requiring a lot of overhead. Within 5 years, I see the revenue of the online sales matching the one of the tea room.

The house-blended teas are at the centre of Clare Pinchbeck's growth ambitions

How did you find out about this loan fund? Why did it seem like a suitable source of funding? Clare: We had just raised funding to buy the Dunkeld bakery so I “ran out” of mainstream sources of funding. I was at a GrowBiz event where I met Tom, your Fund Director. At the end I talked to him and gave him a summary of the business and he said that it was exactly the growth activity that the fund and Scottish Government are looking for. He got it so quickly and got behind our business. He even encouraged me to go for more funding to help me realise all the growth plans I have.

When you speak to bankers, all they see is risk, not potential. His interest in my business was to help me grow it and that was like a breath of fresh air. And that the interest rate is capped was also nice.

Is there something that stood out about this loan fund? Clare: One thing that I thoroughly enjoyed about it was the fact that you pushed me to go for this and realise my plans which gave me a lot of confidence. I’m part of this Mastermind group and very few of them had a similar experience when raising funding – only two and that was with private equity investors. It almost felt like you were personally investing in me.

It took a bit longer than I thought but I love the amount of detail you wanted to understand the value of the business. You want a balance sheet after year 1, year 2 etc – and that tunes my mind into how this is going to make my business grow. Banks only think of risk and if they can get their money back, they don’t care what the business looks like at the end of it. But with this fund the whole point is growth. It changes your mind set as a business owner; it makes you confident.

What would you tell someone looking for funding, particularly debt funding?

Clare: I used to assess the impact of all my growth projects only in Profit and Loss and Cashflow reports but didn’t look at the balance sheet figure at the end. After this process, I run everything I do through the balance sheet as well. Now I actually see the value going into the business as a whole; see what my business is worth at any one point which will make me understand if the funding makes sense.

If you think your business is going to grow, there is a quicker way than incrementally growing it. And that is by taking a small amount of risk and funding it now to get to stage XYZ sooner. But you need to make sure that you have a firm foundation, a real vision for the growth and have done your homework. If you do, just pick up the phone to UMi Debt Finance Scotland - the team there is completely honest and can help you.

Hettie's Tearoom owner, Clare Pinchbeck, with UMi Debt Finance Scotland Marketing Manager, Sabrina Fuchs

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