Excellence Afloat at Valley Cruises is a family-operated boat hire company currently located in two sites, in Stratford upon Avon and Coventry. First established in 1986, the business offers UK holiday makers the unique opportunity to relax and stay in a luxury narrowboat.
Each boat, differing in size and design, comes fully equipped with everything guests need to make the most of a holiday on the British canals; from full instruction on how to sail the vessel to the added personal touch of fresh flowers, wine and chocolates.
Since taking over in 2010, current business owner David Moore has expanded the business rapidly to meet growing demand. And it was his passion and ambition that drove the company to develop their second base in Coventry in 2014.
This new location sat on a 50 mile stretch of lock-free canal; which meant that Valley Cruises could not only offer boat rental services to customers who may be less able or more nervous about moving through the locks by themselves, but also consider purchasing a new boat to provide a new service for the business.
"We wanted to purchase an additional boat that we could 'deck out' for parties and day events – as opposed to the holiday boats with bedrooms and such that we already have," says David. “We needed some extra funding to support expanding into day hire, an idea I knew would do great things for the business.”
“I did consider going to the bank and talking to them; but what I liked about Liberis in particular, was the way the repayment system works,” David explains. “As most small businesses would agree, the sustainability of cashflow can be put under a lot of pressure when dealing with fixed monthly repayments. But by paying as a percentage of my card takings, as I do with Liberis, it means that I pay back only as I earn.”
Valley Cruises currently hosts a fleet of 16 canal boats, and the new day hire boat – David and his team are planning continued growth of the business.
“With our two hire bases, we already have the capacity to expand by another four boats, so that’s my long-term ambition. It wouldn’t happen this season, but perhaps in another 8 months or so when we’ve finalised our plans for the next year. We will then be talking to Liberis again for financing the purchase of another holiday hire boat, again supporting the growth of our business.”