PERSPECTIVE: A solicitor's view on expanding your hospitality business

Published on
21 September 2023

The Cumberland has teamed up with other experts across the hospitality lending space to share advice for business owners on how they can safely expand their hospitality business, despite a challenging economic climate.

We spoke to Burnetts solicitors’ Head of Commercial Property, Robbie Mather, to explore how they support hospitality businesses, as well as discussing the pitfalls that business owners must avoid when they are looking to expand.

How do you support hospitality business owners?

Over many decades Burnetts solicitors has played a leading role in the Leisure and Tourism sector, offering specialist legal and commercial advice for businesses operating within the sector. Our team works for a diverse range of leisure, tourism, and hospitality clients, including hotels, B&Bs, caravan parks, restaurants, visitor attractions, leisure operators and tourism membership groups. Additionally, we support hospitality business owners through our work as a strategic partner of Cumbria Tourism, who are also partnered with The Cumberland.

What are the current challenges facing hospitality businesses from a legal perspective?

The current economic climate of inflation and interest rate rises is impacting on overheads for all businesses. Two particular challenges which are having a key impact on the sector are a lack of staff, with Brexit playing a big impact on this.

Meanwhile a lack of affordable housing to retain people within their local communities to support the employment levels required in the hospitality sector.

However, I will say that the hospitality sector in Cumbria is incredibly resilient. Just look at what it has had to overcome in the last 20 years. I am sure it will continue to thrive!

From your perspective, what are the opportunities for existing hospitality business owners who are looking to expand?

Opportunities are still strong on the back of the Lake District brand and the worldwide draw that the area has. Those that provide a truly unique experience, coupled with the beauty of the local landscape are those who thrive and will continue to expand in challenging times. There are countless examples right throughout the county, particularly linked to food and drink.

How can you help hospitality business owners who are looking to expand?

We provide strong legal advice and we also strive to be a commercial sounding board for many of our clients. Having sector specialists with a real understanding of the industry and geographical area has enabled us to support countless clients with the delivery of their plans.

Are there any key things to note for hospitality business owners from a legal perspective and what do these mean for business owners?

There is a big political agenda of moving everything ‘greener’, but as to how this will impact the sector remains to be seen. Those who are already considering and actioning this will be best placed to deal with any imposed legislative changes over the next decade.

Also, it will be interesting to see whether some of the suggested changes to planning legislation occur. For example, improved availability of affordable housing which will assist the sector by widening permitted development rights for town centres, as well as possibly tightening on availability of Airbnb accommodation in certain locations.

What are the common pitfalls that hospitality business owners experience when they are looking to grow their business? How can they be avoided?

Not having the requisite access to finance and lack of timescale forecasting for delivery of projects. Those who have set off on expansion plans and have not fully costed financial needs against the usual business needs have seen their expansion plans to stagnate.

Having a specialist lender of The Cumberland in the sector who truly understands the needs and requirements of the hospitality sector is invaluable. Planning throughout the county has different constraints and requirements depending upon the proposed location, which can add delays to project delivery if not considered appropriately.

When an owner is looking to expand, for those who do it successfully, what did they do to make the process run smoothly?

Early engagement with their professional network!

I would consider those who are successful on expansion plans are those who have had these early discussions with their accountant with a view to implementing tax and cash flow planning. Have discussed with their legal advisors about the business impact, property planning matters, and employment requirements, and also with their lender on accessing funds, the amount needed, and timings of cash requirements.

Finally, if you were going to give one piece of advice to a business in the hospitality sector which is looking to expand, what would it be?

Embrace the beauty of the area as something you are passionate about. Also use your professional network as an impartial sounding board!

How The Cumberland can support your expansion plans

The Cumberland has supported hospitality businesses to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations for over 20 years through its commercial offering.

By implementing a relationship managed approach with its expert team of advisors, and by putting people at the heart of what it does, The Cumberland has helped numerous hospitality businesses to successfully grow and expand their operations.

To find out how The Cumberland can support you and your business, visit our business page.