A Leeds-based supplier of Italian fine food and wine has received a major business boost with a £21,300 handout from a government-backed recovery fund.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Alivini saw its business slump 90% overnight.

The company was founded in 1975 to supply the best quality wines and food from all regions of Italy. Today, it’s regarded as the leading Italian produce specialist in the UK and supplier of many of the country’s best establishments, Italian or not.

But with its key reliance on the hospitality trade, the business was severely impacted by the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.

Now, business is growing, and the firm is looking to the future with renewed confidence following the financial boost from the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF).

Nigel Linton, Alivini’s head of accounts, said: “Pre-pandemic, 90% of our business was with the restaurant trade and we saw this go literally overnight. It was an extremely difficult time for us and we were losing a lot of money each month.

“We’re extremely grateful to our loyal customers who have stuck by us, and as a result we’re gradually building the business back up to pre-pandemic levels.

“We heard about the CARF from Leeds City Council and decided to apply to help with difficulties not just caused by Covid but also the ongoing cost of living crisis.”

He continued: “The support we’ve received has literally meant the difference between keeping going or considering closing the Leeds outlet and reducing the size of overall operations.

“It was an extremely easy process, and I’d certainly recommend any eligible businesses across the district to apply straightaway.”

Alivini’s extensive portfolio includes some of Italy’s premium brands including Santa Margherita, Col d’Orcia, and the award-winning Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio al Vento. The wines are carefully chosen to compliment the wide selection of fine foods such as parma ham, salami, and cheeses including fresh mozzarella shipped to London weekly.

Under the CARF scheme, companies that pay business rates to Leeds City Council, and can demonstrate a significant loss of revenue in the 21/22 accounting period, can apply for a share of £24m Covid relief funding.

Applications for the scheme close on 30 September 2022, so businesses are being urged to apply as soon as possible.

Robert Henderson, economic development programme leader at Leeds City Council, said: "Any business that pays rates in Leeds and suffered a significant reduction in revenue during the pandemic should be considering making an application. Already, more than 200 businesses have shared over £5m in refunds just by taking a few minutes to look at the criteria and complete the online application.

"Many businesses with premises in Leeds saw a fall in revenue or losses associated with the pandemic through no fault of their own, and this funding is intended to provide these firms with a boost to help them recover from the impact faster.

"Unlike many of the other government support programmes, the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund is open to most business sectors, from logistics and warehousing to manufacturing and professional services, and the awards are calculated according to their 2021/22 rates bill so big rate payers can claim significant six-figure sums if they act quickly."