Leisure Fund has now been extended to £300million to provide loans to
SME leisure businesses across the UK to encourage reinvestment and
The additional cash comes after the bank has already allocated all of
the £150million originally pledged since its launch at the end of May.
Andrew Taylor, Head of Leisure for Commercial Banking at NatWest and
RBS said: “From day one this fund has attracted incredible interest.
“The fund has now been running for 20 weeks and we have agreed over
250 loans totalling some £160m. Given lending in the equivalent 20 weeks
of 2012 was around £60m this is an incredible step forward which proves
that confidence is returning and that NatWest really is supporting SME
clients across hotel, restaurant and pub businesses.
“It is also really encouraging that the funding has not just gone to a
handful of large businesses, but to a wide range of clients around the
country totalling over 260 loans.”
Hotels have generated the largest demand for the fund so far, borrowing around £90m, followed by restaurants and pubs.
Regionally, the South West has seen the most interest with around
£49.9m, followed by the Midlands and South East of England with £37.4m,
the North with £29.7m, London and South East with £35.4m and Scotland
Taylor said: “Generating around £97bn of GDP and around 2.2 million
jobs, the industry is vital for the UK economy and we are dedicated to
supporting leisure businesses across the UK. Our specially trained
Leisure Relationship Managers work closely with businesses to ensure we
can provide the correct support.”
Minister for Tourism Helen Grant said: “The tourism sector has a
major part to play in our economic growth strategy, as it supports local
jobs and businesses across the country. It is great to see such
positive take-up from the NatWest and RBS Leisure Fund and a further
£150 million being added with many hotels looking to benefit and drive
growth. I hope the scheme continues to go from strength to strength.”
National tourism body VisitEngland were closely involved in the
development of the Leisure Fund and are delighted with the response so
Visit England’s Chief Executive James Berresford said: “It is great
to see that leisure businesses across the country are taking advantage
of this opportunity.
“We worked closely with NatWest and RBS on the creation of the fund.
It is vital that our tourism businesses have the opportunity to invest
in their products if the industry is to thrive and grow. The positive
take up of the fund so far demonstrates the industry is hungry to invest
and I am delighted that NatWest and RBS has taken such steps to help
support the leisure industry."