Funding package for Edinburgh’s Witchery and Prestonfield House

Restaurateur James Thomson secures support to help capital businesses through impact of coronavirus pandemic

James Thomson
Photograph David Cheskin

THE owner of Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House and The Witchery has secured more than £2 million in funding to help support the businesses through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

James Thomson’s Castlegate Investments company received £2.5 million in Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) funding through Royal Bank of Scotland for the two venues, which reopened last month.

Thomson, who founded The Witchery in 1978 aged just 20 and went on to acquire Prestonfield House, where he had worked as a student, in 2003; and the Tower Restaurant, which closed its doors permanently this year due to the pandemic, said the company, has seen its weddings and events arm “severely reduced by lockdown measures”.

“Thankfully, the bank has helped me navigate through a very difficult time – the team there were in regular contact with me, and it was very reassuring to see how they stood by me… always available at the other side of a Zoom call as we reacted to the almost daily changes caused by the global pandemic,” he said.

“The hospitality sector supports a whole ecosystem of jobs, from taxi drivers to farmers, to joiners, gardeners, lawyers, accountants, cheesemakers, and breweries. It’s vital that we do our utmost to keep things running, and this funding allows us to do that.

“I’m hopeful we can see a return to normality soon now that we have several vaccines in production.”