Fifty years of friendship and finance – meet Dan and Vic at Unicorn

Today in our series of conversations with people and organisations we’ve known over our 50 years so far, we speak to Dan Holden and Vik Knott of Unicorn Grocery in Chorlton, Manchester.

“We needed loan finance in 2003 to buy our building. The opportunity came up unexpectedly and we needed to get a lot of cash together fast – over £1m. We worked with Triodos but they couldn’t give us the full amount so we had to make up around 50% from other places. Mainstream banks are difficult to work with – they don’t understand the co-ops world, and it’s hard to explain that there’s not one boss in charge of it all. We’s started in 1996 so we were quite a young business.

A loan to us, of that size, was quote a leap of faith, but ICOF did it. Within eight weeks, and between Triodos, ICOF and loanstock from our customer base, we’d raised the money we needed.

We’re proud to have paid it off, in 2012, and even prouder that we could have paid it off sooner if we’d needed to.

The loan really helped us, it gave us so much more floor space and warehousing. It’s in a prime location with regards to our customer base – there’s no way we could afford it now! It was fortuitous timing.

Our involvement with ICFO hasn’t just been the loan. Vik was on the Board as a Trustee from 2014 to 2017 in the financial role, and then Dan stepped in in 2018 9 – there’s been continuous involvement between the businesses

Happy birthday to ICOF – thank you so much for your support over the years, look forward to the next 50 years of cooperation!”

Thanks to Dan and Vic for speaking to us and for sharing the attached images – above is opening day 1996, and below are the ‘new shop’ after buying the building with our help in 2003, and a more recent photo