13 July 2017
Heart of the South Growth Hub support to a luxury holiday accommodation business in Somerset has played a role in occupancy rates of almost 100% being achieved in its first year of business.
Laura and Gary Walker, who have farmed mixed livestock at New Oaks Farm in West Lydford for 15 years, began their move into diversification after Growth Hub Business Adviser Laura Daniel booked them into a Heart of the South West LEP funded Pop-up Business Café focusing on finance in 2015.
The couple, who now have four lodges complete with hot tubs on their farm, received support at the Café event to develop a business plan and funding proposition.
“Over the last year we have outperformed our expectations with occupancy rates of between 85 and 100 per cent,” said Laura Walker.
“The support we received has really allowed us to move in the right direction and ensure our business plan and cash-flow forecast was in good shape.
As a result of a successful first year the couple have ordered a fifth lodge, and have plans to add a sixth.
Laura and Gary contacted the Growth Hub team again when they needed help to recruit their first employee. They were introduced to the Growth Hub’s Growth Support Service and received a face to face session with local Business Adviser Rozz Algar.
She said: “I met with Rozz Algar who gave me advice when we wanted to recruit a park warden for New Oaks Farm.
“Rozz provided us with great help with the employment process, which meant we had everything in place to ensure the process was successful.”
Since opening, Laura and Gary have received positive feedback from guests, with many taking part in the farm tours and helping to feed the animals.
Laura added: “Farming will always be important to Gary and myself. However, to know we have the Growth Hub team on hand to help as we grow the holiday lodge business is reassuring. We will definitely be back for more help.”
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