Paper Soho Nightclub
Seasoned nightclub operator Malcolm Farquharson revived this notorious nineties club in January 2017. The new Wardour Street site was previously occupied by Peter Stringfellow’s Angels Club before Mr Farquharson and his team acquired it. With the landlord’s permission to renovate the entire unit there are now three venues under one roof- Paper, the club in the basement, a ground floor cocktail bar called Dirty Harry’s and A.A. (After All) an exclusive VIP club also on the basement floor. The business was in need of working capital funding when this extensive renovation had been completed, and after a thorough investigation of the business’s first few months of trading, First Merchant were pleased to assist.
Malcolm Farquharson of Paper Soho, writes:
“Having only recently acquired and renovated the Paper Soho site when we approached First Merchant, the business and brand was at a crucial early stage in its development. It had not been an easy task sourcing funds for working capital especially since the business is on a short Lease and the club had only been trading for a few months. Our experience with First Merchant has been positive and we felt that the underwriting team listened to us carefully when we applied for the loan, and showed a good level of understanding of our industry. Once they had approved the initial appraisal of the business and solicitor firms had been instructed, First Merchant made sure that lawyers on both sides were in constant communication with each other and issues were dealt with swiftly. We were granted a moratorium for the first instalment which gave us valuable time to concentrate on getting the club trading to its full potential.”
Traders Wine Bar
Pall Mall Fine Wine entrepreneur Nathan Lowry approached First Merchant for expansion finance for his successful wine bar portfolio in central London. The Group entailed three sophisticated wine, cheese and charcuterie bars in prime central London locations and had identified a suitable fourth location in the City. The challenges for Mr Lowry and his team were to maintain the high standards and strong following developed already and to source the necessary finance for the project. The St Katharine Docks location was a sizeable unit but it was derelict and needed substantial vision and expenditure. First Merchant’s team of underwriters decided to support Mr Lowry’s application after careful analysis of his success to-date and particular choice of fourth site.
Nathan Lowry, Founder and Operator of the Pall Mall Fine Wine Group, writes:
“After the success of our third fine wine and charcuterie bar in Shepherd Market in Mayfair I had wanted to expand further. Local connections in the City led us to a vacant venue in the much sought-after St Katharine Docks. The location was fantastic but the unit required a complete refurbishment and fit out. Finding a finance partner for complete “start up” ventures, despite a strong track record like mine, is never easy but I was fortunate to know First Merchant. Tony and his colleagues worked with my team to move as quickly as possible and we opened ahead of schedule. First Merchant understands how hospitality operators work which is often not the case with other generalist finance houses. I look forward to expanding further and hope to work with First Merchant on a future project.”
Timberyard Workspace Café
An exciting central London coffee and workspace concept business approached First Merchant to support them in their expansion. Established in 2012, the Shoreditch and Seven Dials sites had flourished and their research indicated that a flagship Soho location would be in great demand. Timberyard has pioneered the brilliant idea of a membership club with space to work and socialise for self-employed business professionals who do not need their own offices. The sites serve top class coffee and snacks too.
Alan Turner, Chairman of Timberyard, writes:
“At a relatively early stage of business looking to open a third venue, sourcing capital to cover fit-out costs was proving to be a forlorn task until we were introduced to First Merchant. An initial meeting laid out very clearly the process that we’d need to follow to secure the capital we needed. First Merchant quickly understood our requirements and worked with us to get over the line. The process was simple and efficient and we received the capital in the prescribed timeframe with the minimum of fuss despite our business model being somewhat dissimilar to norms. We will definitely look to work with First Merchant again as we plan for further expansion.”
Lobos Meat & Tapas
First Merchant had long admired the continuing success enjoyed by Ellen Chew, one of the capital’s most prolific Asian restaurateurs. Ms Chew, a Singaporean entrepreneur, whose portfolio of restaurants ranges from Chinese to Singaporean to Malaysian cuisines is well-regarded throughout London’s China Town and beyond. First Merchant had been in discussion with Ms Chew for some time about various fledgling ideas before Lobos. Although a business serving Spanish Tapas would be different from Ms Chew’s recent portfolio, First Merchant felt confident that she would ensure that Lobos would be just as successful. The location in the busy and popular gastronomic hub of Borough Market was second to none. First Merchant were able to fund the full refurbishment and Lobos has quickly earned a fine reputation.
Ellen Chew, Founder and Operator of Lobos Meat and Tapas, writes:
“I had wanted to broaden my portfolio of pan-Asian restaurants to include other cuisines such as tapas for some time. Tapas, in particular, has recently found a permanent place as an exciting feature of the London dining scene. When a fabulous site in Borough Market became available, I needed to move quickly to secure it. Fortunately, some months previously my site finders, Cedar Dean Gilmarc, recommended a specialist hospitality finance house called First Merchant as the first port of call. I was introduced to Tony Hamlin and we built an excellent professional relationship. Tony understood exactly what I wanted to achieve and the First Merchant team delivered the funds we required quickly and in a spirit of co-operation. Without First Merchant’s efficiency we might have lost out on this wonderful unit or suffered delays in the refurbishment programme. Lobos has exceeded my expectations and I look forward to working with First Merchant in the future!”
Our Client has operated three licenced café-restaurants in the south London suburbs since 2002 and a busy café within a local authority owned leisure centre in north London. These successful businesses are located in prime positions in Clapham, Bermondsey and Fulham and within the leisure centre in Swiss Cottage. The Owner/Operator, Mr Shahrokh Parvin, needed business funding to refinance the businesses, to refurbish the kitchen at one site and to buy out investors who had supported him when he launched the group. All of the café-restaurants operate throughout the day and evening and offer a wide range of Mediterranean dishes. First Merchant was delighted to be able to help Mr Parvin to achieve his aims in the shortest time possible.
Shahrokh Parvin, Owner and Operator of Del’Aziz Café-Restaurants writes:
“Time was in short supply when I asked my financial advisors to search for a source of finance for my leasehold businesses. The kitchen at our major branch urgently needed complete refurbishment. The new equipment had been ordered and the shop fitters were booked. I had a funding gap for both this project and to re-organise some other matters. I had not previously known of First Merchant and I did not imagine that a specialist hospitality finance house as such existed. I was very grateful indeed for this excellent introduction by my advisors. Tony Hamlin, MD of First Merchant, arranged to meet with me within 24 hours of my ‘phonecall with him. He understood exactly what I wanted to do and why it needed to be undertaken to improve the bottom line. The assessment of my café-restaurant portfolio was completed within a week and drawdown of funds was made a short time after that. The First Merchant team worked with me every step of the way and I could not have asked for a more co-operative or appropriate financial partner. I will be seeking First Merchant’s help again when the time comes to expand my business.”