When he came to pay the bill Brown said to the owner: “I see you use another bank’s card services and you have old machines, I’m sure I could do you a better deal.”
The owner, Mr Kemal Alpmen, then went on to tell Alex that he was looking to buy another restaurant. Unfortunately Mr Alpmen had been trying to speak for three weeks to his current bank manager at a major high street bank, whom he’d been with since the business was founded nearly 20 years previously.
Promising to return the next day at 10.00am before the restaurant opened for business, Brown headed back to his office, and true to his word, he met Mr Alpmen and his wife and went through all their business needs and plans for the future.
Top of Mr Alpmen’s wish list was his desire to purchase La Figa, another well established Italian restaurant in Limehouse, east London, from his friend for £1.4m, and had a significant sum to invest himself.
Alex Brown said: “It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and seeing how as a bank we can help many businesses with their banking requirements.
“He was clearly less than impressed with his current bank, and given that we have a high degree of autonomy when it comes to making funding decisions locally, I was convinced we could offer a very attractive alternative and help Mr Alpmen expand his Riverside Pizza Ltd business through our ‘Investing for Growth’ programme.”
Conscious that he needed to move quickly Brown worked with his colleagues, as well as with Mr Alpmen’s accountants, Altan & Co and less than two weeks after that morning meeting he was presented with the proposals, which, just like one of Lanterna’s pizzas, hit the spot.
As a result Clydesdale Bank secured the deal, and the three year fixed loan was drawn down on 1 February 2011.
Today Mr Alpmen is the proud owner of La Figa and thanks to Clydesdale Bank’s merchant services now has the latest payment machines in both of his restaurants. As Brown suggested at the first meeting, the Clydesdale Bank merchant services are saving each of the restaurants more than £600 per year.
Mr Alpmen said: “My business is all about service and it was the level of service and attention to detail and guiding us through the process that made all the difference. When the other bank heard I was speaking to Clydesdale they did make me an offer to help, and while the costs were similar, I had already chosen Clydesdale.”
Clydesdale Bank’s Regional Director South, Will Lindsay, who was delighted that Mr Alpmen had switched from its previous banker, said: “Recent research commissioned by the bank found that almost 40% of London and South East businesses are considering switching their banking provider in the next two to three years, citing dissatisfaction and poor levels of service as the main reason.”
He added that the same survey found that almost a third had switched banks at some point in their history, saying: “Apart from poor service, one of the main reasons for moving is the attraction of better terms and conditions, such as our Investing for Growth Initiative.”
Clydesdale Bank launched its ‘Investing for Growth’ initiative last year. Trading businesses with a strong plan, track record and management can take advantage of loan repayment holidays, interest-only repayments and extended loan and credit terms, all designed to help them take advantage of quality growth opportunities. The bank is on track to achieve its commitment to lend £10bn gross of new lending by October 2011 and make a significant difference to businesses across London and the South East.