A fish and chip business is expanding with new frying equipment after receiving the 100th grant from a fund set up to help companies through Covid-19.
Eric’s Fish and Chips has been awarded £43,000 from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme, which will enable it to cater for both its restaurant and take-away customers at Thornham, on the north Norfolk coast.
The £3.5m scheme was launched in April to support businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk with short-term business resilience schemes and longer-term recovery and diversification projects, and grants range from £25,000 to £50,000.
Companies with up to 50 employees and which are dealing with the effects of the outbreak can also have a review of their business carried out and receive advice and support through the initiative.
Eric Snaith, owner of the company and chef/owner of Titchwell Manor Hotel in Brancaster, said he was delighted with the funding which removed a lot of the stress from the decision to invest in the business in such a challenging economic landscape.
“We were at the point where we felt we needed to invest, but we are still a privately-owned, small business and you wonder if investing £110,000 in the current climate is the right thing to do,” he commented.
“This grant has taken a lot of the worry out of it and made a massive difference emotionally, as well as financially. If the economy continues to be hit by Covid, then we hope we will be less at risk.”
Eric’s is currently offering a click & collect service during lockdown at its restaurants in Thornham, Holt in Norfolk and St Ives in Cambridgeshire, and the business did well over the summer months. The new frying equipment will be installed in January and – restrictions allowing – will enable staff to continue serving online customers, as well as those eating in the restaurant.
“We have really young staff, a lot of them are students, and they have been put under a lot of pressure when faced with big orders,” said Eric.
“It’s hot, they are wearing PPE, and there is the worry of serving hundreds of people – so it’s been a struggle at times. As well as being brilliant for the business, the new equipment will give all the staff a bit of a lift.”
New Anglia LEP has been at the forefront of the region’s response to the pandemic and the grant scheme is part of a £10m package of measures it has put in place to assist the economy. Businesses from a diverse range of sectors have benefited, from manufacturing and engineering to hospitality and culture, with some of them finding innovative ways to diversify.
Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia LEP, said he was thrilled the scheme had already been able to support so many businesses and increase resilience within the region’s economy.
“This is a time for businesses to be adaptable and find ways of making themselves more buoyant in such difficult times, and this scheme is designed to support them in that,” he said.
“I would encourage any company which is having to diversify as a result of Covid-19 to apply to the speak to one of our advisors at New Anglia Growth Hub.”