12 Aug 2021

Small businesses growing amidst uncertainty

NAB CEO Ross McEwan remains optimistic for the future for Australia and New Zealand, despite uncertainty and challenges faced by many businesses and households from continued COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.

“Through uncertainty, we will support customers while keeping our bank safe,” said Mr McEwan.

“However, we are optimistic about the long-term outlook. The strong economic momentum leading into this period, ongoing government support and customers’ relatively healthy starting positions give us confidence that once restrictions are eased, the economy will again bounce back,” he said.

Many businesses are adapting and finding opportunities to grow – and NAB is supporting them to capitalise on opportunity.

In NAB’s Q3 Result, released today, shows its business lending grew 4.3 per cent for the quarter.

It’s small businesses like Blake’s Feast who are taking bold steps to adapt and expand.

Established almost 20 years ago in Glen Iris, Blake’s Feast, an events-based catering business quickly made the decision to diversify into takeaway foods when the pandemic originally set in.  That speedy decision making has been life-changing for the company and the foresight shown by the close family running the venture has meant that the business is growing faster than ever before.

Ms Thompson said; “Blake’s Feast quickly spun off into Blakeaway in 2020 allowing us to provide a prepared meal service for those who want to spend less time in the kitchen. We just had a feeling that the impact of the pandemic on Australia was going to be longer than the few months everyone hoped it would be last year. Establishing a takeaway based business was the strategic choice we made to keep our brand and our team afloat.

“This has been a family effort every step of the way with my sister Neredah McIntosh who is co-CEO, my stepfather Andrew Blake and my mother Jennie Blake who are also owners – we have really supported each other throughout this pandemic.  We haven’t had a moment to catch up on Netflix – it’s been all about troubleshooting every move and working around the clock as a team to keep everything running.

“It’s hard to believe it all started with an Instagram post by my sister with a quote from Charles Darwin about needing to evolve to survive and since then we haven’t looked back. Since then Blakeaway’s ready to go meals prepared by chefs have been so well received that we are rapidly expanding and taking on new staff to keep up with demand.

“Economies of scale are so critical when it comes to food production. That’s why we’ve taken the leap and opened up locations in Brighton and Portsea and have Armadale coming online soon.  It’s great news for our team – this investment has meant we’ve been able to save people’s jobs during such turbulent times. It’s also meant we’ve been able to safely shelve our catering business for when Melbourne’s events scene is back up and running.”

NAB’s bankers are busy too. They have been working behind the scenes to get to ‘yes’ faster for small businesses like Blakeaway.  The Bank has introduced business loans of up to $2 million based on digitally captured self-declared financials and higher loan to value ratios than ever before.

The Bank is also offering increased loan terms of up to 30 years alongside the expanded loan to value ratios (80% for commercial and 100% for residential) with a current approval turnaround of 48 hours.

Ana Marinkovic, Executive for Small Business recognised that getting access to cash faster would be a game changer for many companies right now.

“Fast tracking business loans just makes sense for a busy small business owner looking for a quick decision and a loan term that means they can make a pragmatic decision between potentially paying rent or actually buying and owning their premises or refinancing.”

“We’re determined to be part of Australia’s economic success story and see businesses right across the country invest and thrive.”

Pictured – Family team behind Blake’s Feast and Blakeaway: Neredah McIntosh, Andrew Blake, Jennie Blake and Kasey Thompson.

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