News from our partners – OakNorth completes first deal under Help to Grow programme with £600,000 loan to fund expansion of popular coffee chain

Press release 14 March 2017

  • OakNorth, has completed a £600,000 loan to Notes – the speciality coffee, food & wine company with six sites across central London
  • The loan will be used to open two further sites in Victoria and Angel Court as the brand eyes aggressive expansion
  • This is the first loan the bank has completed under the British Business Bank’s Help to Grow programme since joining the programme in January 2017

OakNorth – the bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs – has completed a debt finance deal of £600,000 to Notes, the popular London coffee chain and wine bar concept.

The deal is the first OakNorth has completed under the British Business Bank’s Help to Grow programme since joining in January 2017. The programme aims to provide debt finance of up to £2m to fast-growth businesses and is targeted at filling a £1bn gap in scaleup lending.

Launched in 2010, Notes has built a reputation for itself on the quality of its coffee. Regularly named in London’s top 10 coffee shops, its reputation for excellence was further enhanced in March 2015 when the UK Barista Champion won his crown using Notes coffee. It has managed to set itself apart from other coffee chains in the capital through its unique dual concept of being a café by day and wine bar by night.

The business now has sites in Trafalgar Square, Moorgate, Kings Cross, Canary Wharf Underground Station, Canary Wharf Crossrail station, and The Gherkin. The business hopes to open a further two sites this year using the debt finance from OakNorth: the first will be Notes’ largest to date – a 1,500 sq ft site in Angel Court, less than a minutes’ walk from the Bank of England. The second will be in Nova, the recently-opened commercial development in Victoria.

The company also supplies over one tonne of coffee per month to third party buyers – independent coffee shops around the UK and Europe. Following increased demand from its webshop, Notes launched a new subscription-based webshop in June 2015 to extend reach into the home-brew market.

After nearly two decades of considerable continued growth, the coffee shop market is one of the most successful in the UK economy and is set to outnumber pubs by 2030. Although leading branded chains continue to expand and enjoy positive like-for-like sales growth, albeit at a slowing pace; it is the small and medium sized boutique chains such as Notes that are gaining momentum and driving comparable sales across the sector. This growth is coupled with the fact that the UK population continues to drink more coffee than ever before with an estimated 2.3 billion cups consumed every year in cafes.

Between January 2015 and February 2016, Notes grew from two sites to six and we added a central production facility that can cope with up to 14 more sites. We are a very ambitious company that wants to continue scaling at pace, so we’re delighted that we now have the finance enabling us to do that. Like us, OakNorth is an entrepreneurial business that moves quickly – the entire deal was completed in weeks meaning we were able to get back to focusing on our business and firm up plans for our two new sites Alan Goulden and Edward Halfon Directors at Notes
We’re delighted to have completed this deal with Notes – not just because it is a fast-growing and ambitious business like ours, but also because it is the first deal we have closed under the Help to Grow programme. This is exactly what the programme was set up for and we look forward to working with the British Business Bank to close additional deals in the future Ben Barbanel and Deepesh Thakrar Head of Debt Finance and Debt Finance Director, at OakNorth Bank
Help to Grow is a key component of our initiatives to boost growth capital and encourage more scaleup lending to smaller businesses. We are committed to encouraging new lending through challenger banks and other new market entrants, and so warmly welcome OakNorth’s first transaction under the programme. Ben Barbanel and Deepesh Thakrar Head of Debt Finance and Debt Finance Director, at OakNorth Bank

British Business Bank’s Help to Grow term guarantee benefits from a counter-guarantee from the European Investment Fund under the Innovfin SME Guarantee Facility.

Notes to editors

About OakNorth Bank Limited

Launched in September 2015, OakNorth is a UK bank that provides fast, flexible and accessible debt finance to entrepreneurs and mid-sized growth businesses. It is democratising nonstandard lending by combining fundamental credit analysis with data analytics and machine learning.

In the last 18 months, the bank has:

  • Become the first UK bank to have its core systems fully-hosted on the cloud (May 2016);
  • Turned cash flow positive (August 2016);
  • Grown its loan book to over £350m;
  • Raised more than £280m in retail deposits from over 7,000 savers;
  • And become one of the UK’s fastest-growing financial services companies.

The bank was founded by Rishi Khosla and Joel Perlman, themselves entrepreneurs who were inspired to launch OakNorth following the challenges they faced in securing debt finance from high street banks for their previous business, Copal Amba.

Unlike incumbent banks who tend to only accept real estate as collateral to secure loans against, OakNorth considers multiple assets including: stock, debtors, intellectual property, and plant and machinery. It also gives clients the ability to discuss their loan requirements and growth ambitions directly with the Credit Committee.

This personal and transparent process enables deals – from first meeting to disbursement of cash – to be typically completed in weeks.

The Board is chaired by Cyrus Ardalan, former vice-Chairman of Barclays, and includes Lord (Adair) Turner, Senior Independent Director, and Robert Burgess, Non-Executive Director. Lord (Francis) Maude is an Independent Adviser to OakNorth Bank and a member of its advisory board.

It is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Visit for more information.

Press contacts
Valentina Kristensen
Head of PR and Marketing
Email: [email protected]

About British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Our remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank is currently supporting over 51,000 businesses, working through its 90 finance partners. Its programmes support over £3.2bn of finance to UK smaller businesses and participate in a further £4.6bn of finance to UK small mid-cap businesses.

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the British Business Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options, including debt finance, available to smaller businesses. 

British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. More information, including a legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries, can be found on the British Business Bank website.

British Business Bank plc is a public limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Sheffield, S3 8NH.

British Business Bank plc is the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank. It is an economic development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA.