Gateshead entrepreneur looks to expand property business after securing six-figure finance deal

Photograph: (Left to Right) Dane Nicholson and Harriet Gibbs

A Gateshead-based entrepreneur and property developer is looking to drive growth and diversify into the assisted-living space after securing a six-figure business funding deal with Reward Finance Group.

Dane Nicholson, Director and Founder of Zebra Leisure Lease, has various other businesses spanning motorhome hire through to window film and tint installation, but has utilised the facility provided by Reward to expand his 33-strong residential and commercial property portfolio, primarily across South Tyneside.

The company specialises in purchasing homes via auctions to then refurbish them to a bespoke standard for letting purposes and housing scheme requirements across the region. Due to the fast-paced nature of property auction deals and the need to complete purchases within 28 days, the business needed an agile and responsive finance solution that could meet these cash flow pressures and overcome barriers to growth.

Reward provides SMEs with tailored business finance loans and asset based solutions between £50k and £5m and worked closely with Zebra Leisure Lease to identify both its operational business challenges and opportunities to expand.  The company, like many other SMEs in the current climate, has historically found it challenging to secure short-term commercial finance within a tight timeframe via traditional high street banks and other lenders.

Now boosted by the cash injection from Reward, the business aims to expand its property portfolio by 48% and double revenue in the next 12 months. Key to that growth will be its move into assisted living accommodation, to meet the shortage of housing schemes and suitable properties for vulnerable young adults across South Tyneside.

In recognition of Zebra Leisure Lease’s growing property empire, Dane is also set to feature this Spring on BBC One’s ‘Homes under the Hammer’ TV programme, in which experts uncover the tricks of the property auction trade.

Commenting on the new funding deal, Dane Nicholson, Director and Founder of Zebra Leisure Lease, said: “As an SME business owner it can sometimes be difficult to access the finance and working capital needed to drive growth or capitalise on market opportunities in the North East, particularly within the fast-moving residential property sector.

“Our entire business model is built on identifying and purchasing properties at auction and then transforming them to let. Whether it’s completing the transaction within 28 days or then funding the refurbishment and build costs, both challenges put immense pressure on our cashflow situation and can naturally stunt the progress of my business.

“Finding a finance provider, that is both willing to lend and also offer the necessary speed and flexibility of loan facility, has provided a vital lifeline that is now powering my ambitions and future plans for the company.”

The funding deal was brokered between Reward and Zebra Leisure Lease by David Padget who is Managing Director for Atlas Trade Finance based in Newcastle.

Harriet Gibbs, Business Development Director for Reward Finance Group in Yorkshire and the North East added: “We’re increasingly meeting a range of SMEs like Zebra Leisure Lease that are simply unable to access commercial finance or find a tailored funding solution that will enable business growth. This is a big challenge facing the region’s economy and so we’re delighted to be able to buck the trend and work with entrepreneurs like Dane to provide common sense, agile lending that overcomes barriers and delivers working capital at speed.

“Dane’s plans to expand the company and diversify into the assisted living space within the property market are gathering real momentum and we look forward to working together to help that upward trajectory continue in the year ahead.”