The Cumberland continues to back Cumbrian businesses

Published on
6 June 2023

Cumbria’s tourism sector has faced increasing adversity in the past few years. The pandemic saw tourism nationwide take a significant hit. A brief respite was felt as the country emerged from lockdown and sought to make up for lost time, however it was short lived.

As the tourism sector was getting back on its feet the cost-of-living crisis took hold. Britons tightened their purse strings and an unclear ending to the crisis brought both a nervousness and inability to spend as freely. The crisis has affected the hospitality sector nationwide, but the impact on Cumbrian businesses has been notably damaging. Indeed, Cumbria Tourism recently reported that 46% of businesses in Cumbria have seen a reduction in average spend per customer over the past three months alone.

The lack of customer spending is not the only cause for concern brought about by the cost-of-living crisis. The same report found some 94% of Cumbrian businesses are concerned about rising energy bills, 86% concerned by increased costs in general, and 66% about passing on cost increases to customers.

Whilst the pandemic saw the Government bring forward its Tourism Recovery Plan to support the sector, the cost-of-living crisis could be a step too far for a beleaguered sector which has faced challenge after challenge in recent years.

Despite the various challenges faced by the sector, the report from Cumbria Tourism also shows that confidence in the region is actually on the rise. 63% of businesses have expressed confidence in their survival over the next five years, which is a notable increase from the previous figure of 45% recorded six months ago.

The Cumberland has continued to help local businesses fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations. By implementing a relationship managed approach and putting its people at the heart of what they do, The Cumberland has helped numerous businesses successfully navigate the challenges and supported them during the moments which matter most.

The relationship managed approach is something The Cumberland has strived to hardwire into its genetic makeup. Offering a more personal and genuine approach, its customers have direct access to a relationship manager and associate who understand the needs of their business, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of their operating area.

The Cumberland have been lending to the hospitality industry for over 20 years and has provided more than £20m in investment to the hospitality sector in the past two years alone.

Scott McKerracher, Head of Commercial at the Cumberland said: “Supporting people and businesses within our heartland here in Cumbria has been at the core of what we do at the Cumberland for the past 170 years. We want to make a positive difference to people’s lives now and in the future, and we do this in a number of ways.

“Alongside offering financial support and business guidance to our customers, we are also among the top 2% of organisations in the world that donate 1.5% of profits to actively support charitable causes and projects – and the majority of our financial support goes straight to projects benefitting people right here in Cumbria.”

Who have we supported?

Peel Castle, Brampton

Following investment from The Cumberland, Gordon and Dawn McGregor were able to turn dreams into reality for a regally ambitious project, creating what could be the first castle to be built since the King Charles III reign.

Gordon and his wife Dawn had almost completed building their dream £1m castle holiday-let when their finances were put under strain due to rising costs brought on by the pandemic. Other lenders were unwilling to commit their funds to finishing the project and so an independent broker put the pair in touch with the Cumberland, specialists in hospitality lending.

Gordon said: “It all began as I stood in the garden and thought ‘I’m going to build a castle there’, and since then, thanks to The Cumberland’s support and willingness to see our ambitions realised, we have a fully functioning castle on our grounds.

“The Cumberland did everything they said they would. They considered our case when other lenders wouldn’t.”

The Cumberland's support for the McGregors was testament to a kinder form of commercial lending; analysing each case on an individual basis, with a manual underwriting process which looks at other factors than cash in the bank.

Katherine Thomson, Commercial Relationship Manager for the case, said: “The planning behind the project gave us real confidence to give the go ahead. We looked at the big picture, not just part of it.”

You can read the full Peel Castle story here.

The Cottage in the Wood

The Cumberland has enjoyed a long standing relationship with The Cottage in the Wood since 2008, most recently providing investment to allow the Michelin-listed restaurant with rooms to capitalise on their post-lockdown uptake in demand.

Due to overwhelming popularity during the pandemic when international travel was restricted and Brits opted for staycations, owners Kath and Liam Berney were at risk of becoming a victim of their own success. Staff shortages and supply chain issues saw their restaurant reservation waiting list grow to three months long, and The Cottage was unable to cope with their rediscovered demand.

The Cumberland stepped in to help by extending the pair’s existing loan by three years in order to bring down monthly payments, freeing up cash to spend on service improvements, as well as investment to allow The Cottage to spend on recruiting staff to maintain their excellent reputation.

You can read The Cottage in the Wood story here.

Cedar Manor House

In June last year, Jonathan and Caroline Kaye celebrated 15 years since they opened the doors of Cedar Manor.

Supported by The Cumberland from the start, the boutique hotel has been named as the best luxury hotel in the UK, and 10th best throughout Europe in the 2022 Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards for Hotels, which highlights travellers’ favourite hotels.

Cedar Manor dates back to 1854 and the Kayes’ tenure started in the mid-noughties when they persuaded themselves to bring forward a long-term plan to move into hospitality away from London.

The owners’ relationship with The Cumberland began with the building society assessing their portfolio of properties and offering advice based on their expertise and knowledge of the local area, suggesting the best locations for the owners to base their operations in.

Since then, their relationship has grown; through support and investment from The Cumberland, Cedar Manor has since gone from strength to strength, evidenced by the accolades they have collected along the way.

Jonathan said: “We have tried to create a beautiful luxury small hotel which is as good as we can get it, with the levels of quality in terms of the rooms, the furniture, the service, the products.

“Anyone considering coming into this industry needs to be aware that The Cumberland is certainly the number one for hotel and guest house mortgaging. They understand our business and they should be the first port of call for anyone."

You can read the Cedar Manor story here.

Interested in finding out more?

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