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August update: Mulberry Tree – money talks

19 August 2009
August update: Mulberry Tree – money talks

Proprietor Karen Williams is the private owner of the Mulberry Tree and has financed the business through a mortgage with a high-street bank. Thanks to the restaurant's turnover increasing significantly this year, she says the business has not faced problems regarding overdrafts or other funding with its lender.

The Mulberry Tree is set in three acres of land, which offers the possibility for future expansion and development. Potential projects include adding a conservatory, a chef's table or accommodation as well as developing the land into a working kitchen garden, but Williams insists the current focus is to stabilise the business.

Head chef Alan Irwin constantly reviews suppliers and buys whole animals, enabling him to buy at a more competitive price, while Williams recently changed wine suppliers to Bibendum, which has seen the restaurant's GP rise by 4%.

"We have independent stocktakes every 8-10 weeks to ensure we are operating profitably. Even small increases in GP generate more cash in the bank," she says.

The Mulberry Tree employs mainly part-time staff, which keeps costs to a minimum, and Williams says she has "only employed full-time staff as the business warrants".

Mentor Roy Ackerman says: "Increasingly, banks require regular updates on trading patterns. Williams is in the fortunate position of already having a stable relationship with her bank and has, therefore, fulfilled her obligations on time and kept the bank informed and updated on her current and future budgets.

"Karen's wage and food costs are closely monitored and not much escapes her attention. She is constantly looking for ways to improve her operation and to increase profit. However, she realises that the Mulberry Tree is a quality operation that does not lend itself to cost-cutting menu prices.

"Karen's independent stocktake is useful to confirm her in-house figures and provides a useful backup for meetings with the bank or other potential sources of finance. Karen is correct in concentrating on stabilising the business and only moving forward with the plans and developments that she has when the full profit of the restaurant is more established."

Hermitage Lane, Boughton Monchelsea, Kent ME17 4DA
01622 749082
www.themulberrytreekent.co.uk

AUGUST UPDATE

It's been a good month for the Mulberry Tree, which posted its best monthly trading figures in July. Trading was up 41.4% compared with the same month last year.

The restaurant was also inspected by the environmental health department and achieved the top mark of five "scores on the doors" for its food hygiene and cleanliness standards.

Also, the Mulberry Tree was included in last month's Eat Out list of the UK's top 100 restaurants, where it was listed 74th, making it the highest-ranking restaurant in Kent. "We are chuffed to be included in this list - we have worked hard to put the Mulberry Tree on the culinary map, so this is wonderful news," Williams says.

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