How flexible finance helped me bring a 165-year-old pub into the 21st century

Have you got cash for growth? A cash advance helped Paul Darch drive footfall at the Jack Russell Inn and he has big plans for the future

Located in the very heart of Swimbridge, Devon is the Jack Russell Inn; a local pub and restaurant serving charm, chatter, and a vast range of drinks – from old favourites to new local brands.

The pub is named after Reverend John ‘Jack’ Russell, who is famous for breeding the British hunting dogs that share his name; and the Reverend is actually buried in the churchyard opposite the pub.

The business has a long history, trading since 1852; but it wasn’t until 2006 that business owner Paul Darch took over.

“When we arrived, the pub hadn’t been updated since the 1970s. It was still all red carpets and woodchip wallpaper. We’ve done it up over the last few years,” says Darch.

Part of his renovation plans have been to upgrade the Jack Russell’s restaurant service with a smoker, imported from the US. This would smoke meat and smooth out the kitchen process so Darch and his team could run more tables in the evenings and increase turnover; but it was going to take some investment to achieve.

“We’d received a letter from Worldpay Business Finance and held on to it just in case we needed the support. It just seemed a perfect way to get things done as you don’t even feel the repayments and your cash takings are not involved.

So, we bought the smoker in 2016. Although the smoking process takes time, the smell is incredible and it means we can cater in the summer too, without needing to increase staff.”

Since using Worldpay Business Finance to purchase the smoker, the Jack Russell has taken two further advances to continue refurbishing their barn area. This space had been mostly derelict for years, used only as an old skittles alley. But with the additional funding, Darch is now finally in the process of transforming the building into a projector-based cinema and live music venue.

“We have a few bands that play throughout the year but would love to establish ourselves as more of a music venue for the community. With the funding, we’ve already installed bifold doors and the AstroTurf at the front of the barn to make the space a lot more inviting and great for hosting bigger events like our annual cider festival. We’re getting new flooring in next; levelling out the skittles alley and making the room a lot more useable.”

“We don’t have anything further in the pipeline for the moment. But in the future, we may consider putting in a conservatory out front; this would be a big undertaking, but we would use Worldpay’s funding to make this happen. It’s such a flexible way of financing things.”