The Secret Garden Glamping, an award-winning glamping site in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, is set to continue its rapid expansion after receiving a £250,000 loan from Lancashire County Council’s Rosebud Finance.
The funding comes following an introduction from Lancashire’s Access to Finance service and the company has also received support from Boost’s Growth Support Service and Growth Mentoring programme over recent months.
The Secret Garden began as a project during the first coronavirus lockdown. Founder Derry Green built a single glamping pod for his children to enjoy, sharing his construction journey on Facebook. After the glamping pod caught the attention of UniLAD and LADbible, the story went viral across social media.
Noticing a gap in the market for unique glamping holidays, Green decided to commercialise his idea, creating a bespoke glamping experience. Within 24 hours of listing the pod on Airbnb, The Secret Garden was fully booked for two years.
Given strong demand for the first pod, Green secured planning permission and built an additional seven pods across a four acre woodland site. In order to cater to the ever-growing waiting list, which currently stands at over 50,000, Green has grown his team to 14 over the last two years.
Since its launch, the business has hosted several popular TV shows, including Celebs Go Dating and Married at First Sight, as well as a recent collaboration with FatFace.
Having become the most booked glamping site in the UK, Green was introduced to Rosebud by Cassim Patel at Access to Finance Lancashire. The loan will be used to complete the businesses current site, having secured planning permission for an additional five pods to meet continued strong demand.
Derry said: “It’s hard to believe that a small project for my kids during lockdown has grown into the business it is today. The rapid growth of our site has been incredibly exciting to see, not only creating unique holidays for people to enjoy, but also bringing significant levels of tourism into Skelmersdale and the surrounding area to help uplift the whole community.
“The process with Jonathan and Rosebud was incredibly straight forward. Before speaking with him, I wasn’t even sure external finance was the right option for us. However, after speaking with Jonathan, the process couldn’t have been simpler. I felt completely informed and supported throughout, ultimately leading to us getting the financing we needed to help scale the business and expand.”
With the consolidation of the Skelmersdale site, Green is now looking to expand to another site within the local area, helping to drive the area’s tourist economy.
Jonathan Nelson, fund manager at Rosebud Finance, added: “The rapid growth of The Secret Garden Glamping has been incredible to see, growing from one pod to a globally recognised attraction. The site has also been able to put Skelmersdale, an area not typically known for tourism, on the world stage and boost the local economy.
“With no signs of slowing down, the next few years promise to be just as exciting for the business, with the consolidation of its current site as well as grand plans for a new site. I wish Derry and the team the best of luck on what is sure to be an incredibly successful future.”
The introduction to Rosebud came following a collaborative drop-in session arranged between Access to Finance, Boost and West Lancashire Council, Derry was introduced to Cassim Patel (Access to Finance) by Sue Denver (Boost).
It was clear from the brief meeting that this business is capable of achieving its goals with the correct finance and support. Lancashire’s Rosebud Fund was identified as the most appropriate lender and can provide the type of loan facility the business required, so an introduction to Jonathan Nelson Rosebud Fund Manager was made.
Cassim helped Derry with detailed cashflow forecasting, liaising with Rosebud, and supporting the loan application process through to completion.
Cassim said: “This is an exciting business with an amazing back story and ambitious plans for the future, I am excited to see the progress the company makes over the next 12 months.”
Derry has also worked with Hayley Caine and Nikki Hesford through Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme to prepare the business for growth. The company is also shortlist for Leisure & Tourism Business of the Year at this year’s BIBAs Awards.
Councillor Aidy Riggott, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Growth at Lancashire County Council, said: “It is extraordinary stories like that of The Secret Garden that show the true creativity and innovation the Lancashire business community holds.
“Given this, the important role Rosebud plays in driving forward start-up activity can’t be understated. The fund not only supports these entrepreneurs, but also drives job creation and wider economic growth across our region, putting Lancashire on the map as the ideal place to start a business.”