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Firms gearing up for growth after securing MEIF funding

Written by on 29/11/2021

Two Staffordshire businesses are gearing up for growth after winning financial support from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF).

Online travel agent Luxury Cottages, based at Keele University, has secured a ‘substantial’ investment from the West Midlands Equity Fund, while Stoke-based joinery firm R&S Tonks has been awarded £200,000 to expand its operations.

Luxury Cottages, which was established in 2020 to match guests with luxury stays at properties in the most sought-after locations across the UK, says the money will be used to increase its portfolio to more than 1,200 properties – and create up to 25 new jobs.

Company CEO and founder Alistair Malins said: “We’re an ambitious company keen on growth and this investment enables us to expand our operations into new areas including the Cotswolds, Yorkshire, Wales, Devon, and Cornwall. We’re all about providing holiday homes that create mouth-wide-open reactions when people open the door.

“The next step is to grow our team so we can continue our stellar records of personalised customer and owner service that we have built the company on.”

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Giovanni Finocchio, investment director at Midven, which manages the West Midlands Equity Fund, said: “There are large segments of consumers who have the disposable income to take multiple holidays with many of them prepared to pay for a premium, luxury offering and service.

“With this trend comes a significant opportunity for Luxury Cottages to build its brand and grow its revenue, particularly after consumers have sampled staycations over the last 18 months because of covid restrictions, and now have a flavour for better quality, luxury accommodation.

“The management team have many years’ experience within this market, and I believe they have the skills to grow this business into a significant organisation that will attract acquirers.”

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Meanwhile, R&S Tonks will use its investment – provided by The FSE Group – to retain its 29 employees and create five new positions over the next three years.

The building, joinery and fit-out business specialises in the refurbishment of a large range of properties across the UK including universities, tourist attractions and listed buildings.

Managing director Robert Tonks said: “Being a family-run business, it was important for us to protect our team during lockdown and the funding has enabled us to achieve this.

“The pandemic did have some impact on the company by delaying contracts, but these are now being fulfilled.

“As new jobs are coming through, we have allocated some of the finance to expand the team to meet the current demand without having any detrimental effect on existing projects.”

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Kerry Haughton, investment manager at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund, added: “Robert’s business has been in Staffordshire for over 65 years and the company has a very good reputation with an experienced workforce.

“As well as existing and new projects, Robert has strong marketing campaigns in place to help him grow his client base and is currently looking to work with new sectors such as farm estates and city councils.

“These are exciting times for the business and we wish them well with the next stage of their journey.”

Alun Rogers, chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, has welcomed the investments from the MEIF.

He said: “Luxury Cottages is a great example of a local business that has innovated in response to the impact of the pandemic, identifying an opportunity for growth.

“We’re proud to be working in partnership with Midlands Engine Investment Fund and supporting Luxury Cottages to take their business to the next level.”

He added: “It is great to see R&S Tonks securing this investment which will help the business to expand its team and facilitate growth.”

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