When you have been supplying high-quality vegetables enjoyed by families up and down the country for almost 50 years, getting the financial support to expand your operation should be easy, right?
Unfortunately for the Gibilaro family, who own Villa Nursery, building new glasshouses on their 30-acre site in Harlow, Essex became stressful and frustrating.
Despite supplying Tesco with sugardrop tomatoes for its Finest range and having an exciting Joint Venture ready to go with a wholesaler who owns the rights to sugardrop seeds in the UK, the entrepreneurs faced a series of setbacks.
The Gibilaros, whose family hail from Sicily, just could not make one High Street Bank see what everyone else did, despite their customers including Waitrose, Asda and Aldi. Their frustration at the lack of help was tangible.
Able to identify the company’s potential, Redwood Bank had faith in the family’s plans to restructure the business and came up with a recipe for success.
By conducting site visits and face-to-face meetings, Redwood Bank was able to understand the client’s needs quickly, what obstacles they were going to face and what the opportunities would be if funds were secured.
The Redwood team successfully secured a facility in excess of £3.1million, over a 20-year, amortising basis. The customer was thereby able to repay the current facilities held with other banks, help to restructure the business internally to provide more security for the Gibilaro family, and most importantly, to raise sufficient funds, to erect more glass houses, fulfilling the requirements of their Joint Venture.
Ciaran Kilheeney of Redwood said winning the deal, for what was - at the time of drawdown – Redwood’s biggest loan, and helping the Gibilaro family, was extra satisfying.
Ciaran Kilheeney, Business Development Manager (Warrington & The North West)
He said: “This could be seen as a difficult sector and difficult to secure funding, but the way all of the Redwood team dealt with this, from start to finish, from site visits to regular communication, was tremendous.
“I am very pleased that we were able to support the growth of this business and complete the transaction very quickly.
“Great support was provided by everyone at Redwood who was involved in the deal, which aided the family through the process from start to finish.”
It was clear that the Gibilaros had earned the right to be considered a solid, flourishing business. The nursery was established in 1970 by Vincenzo Gibilaro after moving to the UK from Sicily.
He started by selling cucumbers, then aubergines, before switching to peppers in 2006, and in the past 12 months, Villa Nursery has partnered with A Gomez Ltd.
Villa Nursery has now been able to continue its growth, and the Gibilaro family can look forward to the next 50 years of supplying supermarkets and then dinner plates. Their business plan was ready, but it took Redwood’s belief to allow it to fully ripen.
Today, the nursery sits in 30 acres of land, of which 14 acres is under glass. Led by Vincenzo's sons Felice and Michael, they are the sole growers of sugardrop tomatoes in the UK.
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