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Ian sees first hand how bank support has helped South West businesses

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

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One of the UK's most senior bankers has spent a day in Torbay visiting companies that The Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest have supported in recent months.

During his visit, Ian Cowie, chief executive for NatWest and RBS business and commercial banking spent time at the Brixham-based start up tourist attraction The Smugglers Story and the Paignton-based Bays Brewery.

The banks had lent finance to the former to get off the ground earlier this year and to the latter to finance the purchase of the freehold of its base on the Yalberton Industrial Estate as well as providing business support.

Bays Brewery director Mark Salmon said the purchase would give the business stability and greater freedom to make alterations to the site.

"Now we have control of the site it will enable us to think about expanding the brewery. We have lots of ideas to help us develop the business," he said.

The brewery, which started trading in 2007, employs 10 full-time staff with plans to recruit two people over the next two years.

It currently produces around 25,000 pints a week, with capacity to produce up to 40,000.

Mr Cowie had a tour of the brewery and the chance to sample some of the firm's products.

Andy Rowe, NatWest relationship manager, recently spent a day working at the brewery as part of the banks' Working with You initiative which sees staff gaining a greater understanding of the firms on their patch.

"Managers within the business, most of them have never run their own business so we said that for two days a year they would spend time in the business, rather than working on the business," he said.

And Mr Cowie defended levels of bank lending to small businesses, saying: "Clearly, demand is subdued as a result of the lack of confidence that has been on us for a while. We are currently lending and we are lending above our share."

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