ThinCats, the leading fintech lender to mid-sized SMEs, has provided £7m growth funding for Welsh service station operator Ascona Group, catapulting them into the Forecourt Trader Top 50 independent petrol retailers in the UK.
Headquartered in Pembrokeshire, Ascona Group is managed by Darren Briggs, Duncan Morris and Shane Higgon who have a collective 50 years’ experience in the fuel services industry. Ascona has seen exponential growth this past year and with the support of ThinCats have grown their business from 7 to 16 sites with turnover increasing from £7m to £85m by the end of March.
Through further financing by ThinCats and Ascona’s well-structured growth plans, they are set to expand to 40 sites (with a mixture of leasehold and freehold sites nationwide) by the end of this year with annual sales revenues predicted to exceed £150m.
When seeking funding Ascona initially went to a traditional lender, but despite the sector experience and strong reputation of management, high street banks deemed their growth plans too ambitious. Frustrated, they turned to ThinCats who worked quickly to provide a bespoke credit-backed growth facility, aligned to Ascona management’s strategy. ThinCats and Ascona harnessed the wealth of experience across the local South Wales professional market to deliver this deal including: Broomfield Alexander Accountants in Cardiff, Morgan LaRoche Solicitors in Swansea and Price & Kelway Solicitors in Milford Haven.
The funding is a significant boost to the local economy, with Ascona using local suppliers for their sites.
Darren Briggs, managing director of Ascona Group Holdings said: “From the outset, Thincats was clearly committed to support our accelerated growth plans. Thincats have set out to challenge the lethargy and inflexibility that exists from traditional business lending providers. By assessing opportunities from a bespoke lending perspective, rather than ticking boxes in a rigid format, they can support ambitious and well-structured businesses to achieve their objectives. By the end of this year, we predict that our annual sales will have grown circa 3000% over just 24 months. I am delighted to be sharing our growth strategy with Thincats and developing our relationship further.”
Alison Whistance, director of business development for South West and Wales, ThinCats, said: “We are delighted to support the growth of Ascona and look forward to providing additional facilities to enable their further expansion. I am proud to support this Fast Growth West Wales business and delighted to have worked with several local Welsh advisors on this transaction. It’s great to see a shift in business lending where it’s not just the mainstream lenders that dictate growth, businesses like ThinCats are plugging the funding gap and supporting those businesses that make up the backbone of the UK’s economy.”
ThinCats and Ascona are already discussing the next tranche of funding for further acquisitions over the coming months.