Coleraine concept store chosen by British Business Bank as Start Up Loan ambassador

Tracy McAllister from the BTS Concept Store in Coleraine

AN interiors and lifestyle store on the Causeway Coast is among 12 SMEs selected as champions of a programme run by the government-backed Start Up Loans bank, which since 2012 has delivered 1,214 loans worth £9.5 million to Northern Irish businesses.

The BTS Concept Store in Coleraine ( has been included in its annual Ambassadors programme, which celebrates exceptional business owners who have followed an ambition of becoming their own boss after receiving support from the government-backed Start Up Loans programme.

BTS (By The Sea) was established in 2013 by Tracy McAllister, who took a leap into the unknown and started a business that allowed her to follow her passion after being made redundant from her job in corporate communications.

Having re-launched her website at the start of this year, online sales have kept the store going, and July saw its busiest month since opening.

“By The Sea is a dynamic business which shows that you can build a successful and innovative company wherever you are in the UK, taking the best of your local area and marketing it to the world,” UK minister for Small Business Paul Scully said.

“Businesses in Northern Ireland have received over £9 million through the government’s Start Up Loans programme, and it’s great to see that investment paying off.

“The Start Up Loans scheme has a vital role to play in our plans for levelling up every part of the UK, and the determination and commitment shown by companies like By The Sea is exactly what we want to encourage.”

Through a network of delivery partner organisations, the Start Up Loans programme provides pre-and-post loan support to help applicants to develop a business plan; a fixed-interest loan of up to £25,000 to start or develop their business; as well as mentoring support to help loan recipients with everything from cash flow to marketing.

Richard Bearman, managing director at Start Up Loans, which is part of the British Business Bank, said: “Amid all the disruption and uncertainty of 2020, having strong business leaders at a grass roots level to demonstrate best practice operations and inspire others has never been so important.

“The idea of starting a business is exciting for most people, as well as daunting, particularly in the current environment. But what our 2020 ambassadors demonstrate is that with the right support and mentoring it’s possible to thrive and succeed in even the harshest conditions.”

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