Fast Food Professional magazine: How specialist lending amplifies the possible

Johnson Reed
4m read

Originally published in Fast Food Professional magazine February/March 2019. An online version of the magazine can be found here.


Across the country, thousands of fast food owners are stuck in first gear, when they should be racing to their full potential.

The price of equipment is a step on their brakes. As we all know, customers want tasty, well-prepared food they’ll keep coming back for. But if you don’t have the right cooking gear when the ‘Open’ sign hangs on your door, that’s almost impossible to achieve.

So it’s a matter of potential – of funding the resources you need more than anything else. In the past, mainstream lenders understood this. They would step in and arrange a finance agreement for startups or growing fast food brands.

Now, though, it’s a different story. Most banks and traditional lenders are far too selective with their cash. Risk scares them, especially when it’s tied to heavy-duty kitchen gear. And, as a result, it’s leaving a gap in the market – one that some providers are diving into head first…

Johnson Reed is one such lending resource. They are committed to their areas of expertise: one of which is catering and fast food. For large, top-line equipment such as fryers, cookers, fridges and ovens, they help businesses overcome those financial barriers that have been getting higher and harder to tackle. With Johnson Reed, common sense lending is back on the menu.

It is, in the words of Director Mark Johnson, a choice that many business owners assume they don’t have.

“The personable side to lending has been lost,” he tells us. “Barely anyone knows who their bank manager is anymore. Plus, the mainstream criteria are so strict, especially for startup businesses. Catering and takeaway sites will struggle unless they have what they need from day one. We’re saying ‘yes’ to heavy equipment finance, with lenders who appreciate many forms of fiscal security.”

Some assets – like an industrial cooker – are typically deemed worthless to mainstream lenders as they can’t be resold if payments aren’t met. This holds fast food outlets back from top earnings in a competitive environment. The same is true of flooring, ceilings, window fittings and other aspects of a fit-out.

“We want takeaways to be aspirational,” Mark explains, “so they make an impact right from the get-go.

“Recently, for instance, we put on our quirky hats for Rumba, a rum bar in Congleton, which was moving wholesale to a new building on the other side of town. That was going to cost the owner far more than he could afford on his own. We’re talking huge coolers, cookers, display cabinets… Basically the lynchpins of the premises. But Rumba were approved within days. Their lending requests grew, and we managed to give them access to more cash for such a big transition.”

Leasing does not only measure repayments out over time, lessening the pressure of equipment costs. It’s also a tax-free expenditure. In several ways, it has a beneficial effect on what you’re trying to save, earn and afford.

Mark spoke further on the Rumba client, sharing more detail on what they wanted and how it came about.

“Initially we provided finance for typical purchases: the display, and food and drink-related equipment. But when Martin, the owner, sought funding to kit out an entire venue, we stepped up our support. We helped them transform several thousand square feet of space – something the management team were mostly paying for themselves through pensions and personal finance. Our lenders gave them an extra push.

“The business was a few years old, which always helps lending requests. Digging deeper, we saw that Rumba bar is just one enterprise within Life & Soul Ltd., a group of hospitality sites in the North West. It was obvious we were dealing with capable, experienced business leaders. Our lenders were doubly confident they’d meet the payment schedules.

“One day, we hit the road and visited the venue in person. That’s when we pointed out the counter mirror – it, along with the joinery, wasn’t secured yet. Martin and his fellow directors agreed. Soon enough, extra fittings were added to the finance sum. The client also let us get creative and open funding for four caravans to be used as seating booths for their customers.

“The thing to note here is Rumba’s ambition. The bar had to feed families in the day, serve social functions by night, and keep the alcohol flowing for those who don’t want to leave the dancefloor. To that end, they ended up financing a pizza oven too. We loved making this happen, piece by piece, through to approval.”

To gain specialist, no-nonsense financial advice, speak to Johnson Reed on 0161 429 6949. Alternatively, message them at to make your investment reality.