DORSET brewer Hall and Woodhouse is gearing up for an expansion with the help of a £20m loan from a fund aimed at small and medium sized businesses.

M&G Investments runs a £500m fund which provides longer-term loans than banks are able to.

It says the Blandford St Mary-based brewer, which owns 200 pubs, was an ideal fit for its fund.

The money, to be loaned over 10 years, will enable Hall and Woodhouse to expand and to roll out new pub concepts.

James Pearce, head of direct lending for M&G Investments, said: “What we offer with this fund is the ability to look up to 10 years ahead which the banks can’t do.

“The banks only go to four or five years.”

He said of Hall and Woodhouse: “They’re a very conservative company but they’re cutting edge in some of what they’re doing.

“They focus on the long term. We were a natural partner for that.”

He said the process of lending the money had involved getting to know the company and being impressed.

“It was very important for us to get comfortable with them and for them to get comfortable with us. We both see it as a 10-year relationship,” he said.

“Throughout the process of lending them money, we spent a lot of time with the management, really getting to know the company and we’ll continue to do so over the next 10 years.

“We see this as hopefully the beginning of a long-term relationship with Hall and Woodhouse.”

Martin Scott, finance director at Hall & Woodhouse, said: “The M&G Direct Lending team impressed us from the outset.

“They demonstrated a genuine passion for our business, flexibility in their approach and a willingness to invest heavily up front in getting to know everyone involved in taking us forward.”


OTHER companies to have benefited from the M&G Investments fund include Caffe Nero, which borrowed £30m over five years in a deal announced earlier this month.

The family-run company is Europe’s largest independent coffee shop group, behind only Starbucks and Costa on the high street.

The loan was part of a broader re-financing by the company and was to support its growth ambitions.

James Pearce, pictured, of M&G Investments said that, like Hall and Woodhouse, it was a good example of the kind of company the fund could work with.

“We really like the business. We really like the conservative approach that these family businesses generally have,” he said.