Two friends who dreamed of launching their own business have transformed an empty unit in Immingham’s Kennedy Way Shopping Centre into a haven for DIY enthusiasts after securing help from alternative lending provider Finance For Enterprise.

Sales expert Richard Chapman and experienced locksmith Mike Skinn have worked alongside each other for more than 12 years and often talked about the idea of running a business together. When the owner of the business they worked for announced plans to retire, the duo began exploring the possibility of acquiring the business. However, despite their best efforts, they were unable to reach terms and after seeking out business advice, the duo decided to act on their ambitions and launch a new business from scratch.

Having spent several months carefully drawing up their plans, the duo began scouring North East Lincolnshire to identify suitable premises. When they discovered a unit at Immingham’s Kennedy Way Shopping Centre was available, they decided to put their plans into action. Only one thing stood in their way: securing the vital finance needed to secure the lease, as well as purchasing the stock needed to support the work of even the most dedicated DIY enthusiast.

Working with business lending manager Jane Cusse, the duo successfully secured Start Up Loan funding, enabling them to receive an early Christmas present in the form of the keys to their new shop, which they received on 23rd December. Inside, the duo put their DIY skills to the test, working throughout the festive period to prepare for their grand opening just two weeks later.

Since opening Immingham DIY, the shop has proved to be an instant hit with DIY lovers, and the business attracts between 60-100 visitors every day. In addition to supporting the local community, Richard has also carved out a niche for the business online, supplying a range of screws, nails and tools to DIY enthusiasts across the UK, and he hopes to launch an Amazon shop for the business in the near future.

Richard said: “Mike and I have worked together in a number of jobs over the years, and we often spoke about running our own business together. However, it always seemed like something of a pipe dream. We began taking the idea seriously last year and realised that it was very much a now or never moment.

“We knew the combination of a traditional DIY store alongside locksmith services was a winning formula, and when we spotted suitable premises to run the business from, we felt it would be the perfect opportunity to put our plans into practice. We spent quite a bit of time planning and explored a number of different scenarios, including possibly acquiring an existing company or starting a new company from scratch.

“However, it didn’t really matter which avenue we explored, we realised that additional finance would be needed, and we knew that without any previous experience of running a business, it was likely to be a challenge to secure it. We were introduced to Finance For Enterprise by a business adviser; Jane listened to our ideas and helped us to secure the vital finance we needed.

“With funds in place, we were able to commit to a lease on a shop in a dream location for us, complete the fit-out, as well as investing in new stock. We knew that it would take time to build and grow the business, and the support we received from Finance For Enterprise proved invaluable when it came to supporting our cashflow. We completed the fit-out work in just two weeks, and we also invested time in selling some of our goods online. Springtime is typically a busy period for homeowners and we are already receiving between 60-100 visitors to the shop every day, and our online orders are going from strength to strength.”

Jane Finance For Enterprise said: “Over the past two years, there’s been something of a DIY boom, and Richard and Mike are helping people, not just in Immingham, but across the UK, to access the essential tools, equipment and materials to renovate their homes.

“Businesses operating in the retail sector typically need to invest significant amounts of money to secure the stock their business needs, as well as kitting out new premises. In many cases it can be difficult to secure finance from traditional high street lenders, however they spent time working Paul Slade at Efactor to discuss and develop their plans and he suggested that Finance For Enterprise may be able to help them access the finance they needed. The Start Up Loan scheme was created specifically to help new entrepreneurs, and although Richard and Mike’s business is a new one, they’re no strangers to the industry they work in. They put together a strong business plan to support their application. I’m confident that their business has an exciting future ahead of it.”

Finance For Enterprise is a delivery partner of Start Up Loans UK, an initiative backed by the British Business Bank designed to help new entrepreneurs secure lending. Since the Start Up Loans scheme was launched in 2012, the programme has helped more than 75,000 entrepreneurs to realise their business ambitions. In Yorkshire and the Humber, Start Up Loans UK has provided over £55 million to over 6,300 new businesses.

Finance For Enterprise provides a range of tailored loans, aimed at helping SMEs in Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands and Lincolnshire. The company acts as a fund manager for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Start Up Loans UK and provides business loans up to £250,000.