Halen Mon has been shaking up the salt industry with a little bit of help from the Coastal Communities in Wales (CCF).
The successful business was namely, Halen Mon. Their two year project was awarded £191,817 to provide a permanent building to house the organisation’s Salt-Cote and Visitor Centre. It became a sustainable centre for sea salt production and visits.
Halen Mon itself is nearing the end of their funding so we asked them to look back and tell us how their Coastal Communities Funding helped their business to reach new heights, even being sampled by a US president! Eluned Davies from the project tells us more…
“We make the world’s finest sea salt. Our business exists for the good of all who are involved in making, buying and eating it.
Importantly our team is committed to producing our products in a sustainable way. We started our business because we love the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where we live.
We had long wanted to expand the business – going all the way back to an £800K 25% grant offer in 2004 from the WDA which was then abolished, along with our expansion ambitions.
Despite selling a business in 2007 and having a growing business in Halen Môn, the 2008 recession resulted in the total inability to raise significant funds from banks.
During 2009 and 2010, we grew organically but couldn’t tackle the real issue of our whole operation being based in Porta cabins and shipping containers. All the PR was of the product, the environment or the customers – never the infrastructure or an invitation to visit.
The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Sustainability Fund made an offer of £25K and that was the catalyst but it didn’t really address the need to borrow almost a million pounds for a company that was profitable but not that profitable.
And then CCF round 1 happened and we joined the process in round 2 when I think 80 applications were whittled down to 8 offers of which one was to us.
This solid offer was conditional on getting bank finance but it gave us the leverage to approach two banks and argue that having £2-300,000 in public aid would help justify a bank’s investment in a growth. It still took significant help from the Directors and Welsh Government to make it happen because the total scheme was £1.25m when costed properly and thoroughly.
The role of CCF was the game changer because banks only want to lend 60-70% of the value of the key asset and a salt factory is a risky asset – from a bank’s viewpoint. So to have that CCF sum going into our balance sheet gave banks confidence and in the event CCF helped lever the right other funds at the right price.
So now you can see we are proud of our infrastructure and building and the business is growing and the expansion has generated a visitor tour, a great shop as well as giving us a sustainable HQ and base.
Often grants are a help but CCF (revenue and capital) changed our business trajectory from hand to mouth to predictable success and sustainable growth.”
The Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) aims to encourage the economic development of coastal communities by awarding Welsh Government funding to create sustainable economic growth and jobs. For information on other projects funded through CCF please visit our website.