Grangemouth wedding caterer calls on Scottish Government to show industry greater support

The owner of a Grangemouth catering company insists more must be done to help firms in the wedding and events industry to survive the pandemic.
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Mark Gow, who runs King Boar Catering, has told of the difficulties he’s encountered when applying for Scottish Government coronavirus grants.

As a company which provides hospitality services for weddings and social functions, King Boar Catering is one of several to have been severely impacted.

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Since last March, 95 per cent of its wedding bookings have been postponed.

Mark Gow (Pic: Michael Gillen)Mark Gow (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Mark Gow (Pic: Michael Gillen)

In the last year, the majority of the Abbotsinch Road-based caterer’s transactions have been refunds, with £5000 handed back to a bride and groom in the week of the original lockdown.

The firm has received just £1400 from Holyrood in the form of a hardship grant.

The other £50,000 granted to King Boar Catering has come from the UK Government via a business hardship payment and a £40,000 Bounce Back Loan.

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Mr Gow, who has owned the business with his wife since 2014, has been left incredulous by the lack of Scottish Government funding – as well as its reasons for rejecting applications.

He said: “We are a viable business when allowed to trade and due to couples carrying over, our bookings for this year and next are very good.

“We thought we would be eligible for one of the grants being administered.

“We firstly applied for the temporary closure grant – about which we were initially told that we were successful – only for them to then reply, on review, we didn't have a drinks licence so were no longer eligible.

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“We then applied for the business restrictions grant. We were told we were not eligible for funding because we could hold an event – an event that could get you a £10,000 fine.

“After new announcements of funding for the hospitality sector within the Strategic Business Fund, I called Business Gateway for advice.

“We don't qualify for it as, according to them, we aren't hospitality, which is laughable as we’re the ones who provide hospitality in several settings.

“I then asked about the Business Closure Fund and was told unbelievably, bearing in mind we are in full lockdown, I am still able to do events.

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“We’re a hospitality business that can’t access the Hospitality Fund and a closed-by-law business that can’t access the Business Closure Fund or Restrictions Fund.”

Holyrood today launched a £25 million fund to support the wedding sector. Eligible businesses can now apply for one-off grants of up to £25,000.

Finance Minister Kate Forbes said: “I’d encourage all those who think they are eligible to find out more about applying.”

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Mr Gow isn’t convinced King Boar Catering will benefit from the fund.

He explained: “I should get access but it’s a limited fund. I could get turned down on a technicality.

“I would hate for people to think we’re in trouble when we’re not. We’re just after the funding other businesses are getting.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have worked closely with this business to identify all sources of support they would be eligible for.

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“The council is launching its own Discretionary Fund on February 1 which is designed to help businesses who have fallen through the gaps (value £2000).”

Visit falkirk.gov.uk for more details.

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