Campaign is launched to help more businesses bounce back

Campaign is launched to help more businesses bounce back
Back in Business logo

In the coming weeks we will recognise those working to get Tunbridge Wells back on its feet by profiling their businesses on our news pages and social media platforms.

It’s our way of playing a small part in helping to kick start the local economy while at the same time emphasising the need to observe restrictions such as social distancing.

The town centre is already returning to life. Staff at A-Plan Insurance on Mount Pleasant Road are back working in their offices. Branch Manager Mike Burke told us: “The High Street is starting to look really busy and it’s great to see people out supporting the local economy.”

The popular Framptons restaurant on The Pantiles has reopened with the help of a Government backed grant. There’s a maitre d’ to greet guests and help collect track and trace details.

And the boards have come down at Cote Brasserie on Mount Pleasant. They were put up when the restaurant was closed four months ago.

Feedback this week confirms that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme is hitting the spot, with Government discounted meals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sopranos on the High Street was ‘fully booked’ for lunches and catered for 350-400 customers last week.

At Zorbas Meze Grill on Upper Grosvenor Road staff had ‘to turn people away’ with overall takings up 20 per cent on the same time last year.

It all adds up to a great start… but we have to keep up the momentum.

If you would like to see your business featured for free in the Times, particularly if you are a smaller independent, then please see details on page two.

Here’s how to sign up. Just send us the background details of your company, in no more than 400 words, telling us:

Who you are … where you are… what you offer… and how you believe raising your profile in the Times might help. Relevant images of you and product will also be appreciated.

We’ll do our best over the coming weeks to profile your business along with your website site, at no cost to you. Details to:

Here are some local firms already ‘Back in Business’

Insurers ‘proud to be supporting’ the local economy as they reopen offices

AN INSURER has implemented Covid safety measures in its town centre office to enable it to reopen on the high street.


A-Plan on Mount Pleasant

Staff at A-Plan Insurance, which is situated on Mount Pleasant Road, had all been working from home over the last few months.

But the firm, which ‘prides itself on talking directly to its clients’, decided to reopen this month.

Branch Manager, Mike Burke said: “From a technical perspective we have managed to stay open using remote technology that enables staff to work from home. Clients on the phone have experienced minimal disruption.

“But we came to the high street initially because our customers like to speak to somebody in person – it is really important to them, so we are back in the branch now with the appropriate precautions in place.”

He added Covid safety measures included PPE for staff and clients, hand sanitation stations, and regular office cleaning.

The insurers, which has around 100 branches nationwide, still has some people working from home who are high risk, but Mr Burke added: “I think as long as you can make the workplace safe, and people are happy coming back, there is no reason why you shouldn’t.

“The high street is starting to look really busy and it’s great to see people out supporting the local economy, the team and I are proud to be playing a part in this.”

Loan enables Framptons to begin trading again

A TUNBRIDGE Wells restaurant has managed to reopen thanks to a government backed loan scheme aimed at small to medium sized business.

Framptons, based on The Pantiles, reopened last month following a six-figure loan from HSBC UK through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Framptons has three locations across the south of England – in Tunbridge Wells, the New Forest and Bath, and prides itself on working with local suppliers and using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

HSBC UK supported Framptons with the six-figure funding to help protect 47 jobs and allow the business to continue paying its suppliers and rent after income stopped overnight at the start of lockdown.

The company has been focussed on adapting its business operations to make sure they can reopen safely.

Both the Tunbridge Wells and New Forest locations have now reopened, with its Bath restaurant set to restart operations in line with the city’s first Premiership Rugby match – a key driver of customers to the restaurant.

Tom Walker, Director of Framptons Café Bars said: “Framptons has faced unprecedented challenges in recent months but the CBILS loan has helped us protect our sites and ensure they were in a stronger position to reopen once the time was right.

“We’re seeing more of our regular customers return and we’re now feeling more confident about our business’s future and look forward to reopening in Bath soon.”

He added that Framptons is also using the funding to develop new safety measures to meet social distancing guidelines.

These include having a maître d’ to greet guests and help collect track and trace contact details; implementing enhanced cleaning routines every hour; and purchasing hand sanitiser for staff and customers.


Boards torn down at landmark brasserie

A RESTAURANT situated in the centre of Tunbridge Wells town centre has reopened, following four months of being boarded up.

When lockdown began in March, the Côte Brasserie, on the corner of Church Road and Mount Pleasant, had to have boards put up against its doors and windows due to a request by insurers.

The decision had caused concern in the town, with even the Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, William Benson, taking to social media to complain about the move.

But last week the boards were finally removed as the popular French restaurant reopened for business.

In a statement, the 94-strong restaurant chain, which was originally founded by Richard Caring, owner of the Ivy, said: “We are delighted to announce that we have begun a gradual reopening of our restaurants, with our brasseries now open from midday until 9pm.

“In order to protect the health and well-being of our guests and our staff, we will be making some changes to the way we operate until further notice.

“Our brasseries will only be opening from 12 noon until 9pm, accommodating groups of up to 6 people.

“We have adapted our layout and seating arrangements to allow for social distancing, in accordance with government guidelines.”


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