Co­coa Bean’s plea for £150,000 sup­port cash

Ste­wartry at­trac­tion ap­peals de­ci­sion for emer­gency aid

The Galloway News - - News - STEPHEN NOR­RIS

A lead­ing Ste­wartry vis­i­tor at­trac­tion has lodged an ap­peal against a de­ci­sion to refuse it emer­gency Covid-19 aid.

The Co­coa Bean at Twyn­holm is seek­ing £150,000 from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Piv­otal En­ter­prise Re­silience Fund (PERF).

South of Scot­land En­ter­prise (SoSE) – which de­liv­ers the fund – knocked back the ini­tial bid.

Now the com­pany is urg­ing SoSE to re­con­sider so ma­jor job losses among the 27-strong work­force can be avoided.

Co­coa Bean mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant Emma Tur­ley said: “We are hop­ing for a pos­i­tive out­come.

“The money would make a mas­sive dif­fer­ence and pro­vide breath­ing space rather than us hav­ing to keep adapt­ing con­stantly.

“It would help sup­port the tourist at­trac­tion side of the busi­ness which is cur­rently at the most risk.

“We have been told the ap­peal will be as­sessed within 10 work­ing days. A de­ci­sion is ex­pected shortly there­after.”

Emma added: “We have had 16 weeks with noth­ing com­ing in ex­cept loyal cus­tomers sup­port­ing through on­line or­ders.

“At the mo­ment our fu­ture is hang­ing in the balance.”

The Co­coa Bean was del­uged with sup­port af­ter the News re­ported the jobs threat.

“It has been quite hum­bling to see the sup­port we have re­ceived from all over the coun­try,” Emma said.

She added: “We are in close con­tact with them (SoSE) fol­low­ing the Gal­loway News ar­ti­cle.

“SoSE has al­lo­cated a case man­ager to us and a fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant came out to see us last week.

“We do ap­pre­ci­ate the pres­sure they are un­der and that con­tact be­tween us has im­proved.”

Mean­while, the com­pany has drawn up a re­vised fi­nan­cial strat­egy, part of which was in­cor­po­rated into the ap­peal.

It kicks into gear to­mor­row when the Co­coa Bean opens its out­door eatery and beer gar­den

– with a skele­ton staff.

The out­door play area, work­shops and in­door ar­eas re­main closed to vis­i­tors al­though choco­late pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues.

Emma said: “We will see how this week­end goes be­cause it will be the first one since March 20.

“We are hop­ing to get some work­shops up and run­ning soon. But we have to walk be­fore we can run.”

The Co­coa Bean es­ti­mates it has lost over £400,000 in rev­enue un­der lock­down.

Mean­time, a £50,000 “bounce back” loan has been se­cured from the UK gov­ern­ment to shore up finances.

No in­ter­est or pay­ment will be due for 12 months but the money will have to be re­paid.

A re­dun­dancy process cur­rently un­der way at the site is “re­versible” with cash aid, the com­pany has said.

South of Scot­land En­ter­prise con­firmed that all ap­peals are heard within the 10 work­ing days bench­mark ap­plied across all Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

A spokesper­son said: “We con­tinue to work closely with Co­coa Bean to see what sup­port we can pro­vide them through the dis­rup­tion caused by the pan­demic and help them build a solid fu­ture.”

Fund­ing plea Work­ers at The Co­coa Bean in fear for the fu­ture

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