Fast-growing Ascona Group says it is set to more than double in size by the end of the year, and reach a turnover greater than £150m.

In the past year Ascona has grown its business from 7 to 16 sites, with support from lender ThinCats, with turnover increasing from £7m to £85m by the end of March.

ThinCats, a lender to mid-sized SMEs, has provided £7m growth funding for the Welsh service station operator, headquartered in Pembrokeshire.

Through further financing by ThinCats, Ascona’s management team of Darren Briggs, Duncan Morris and Shane Higgon say they are set to expand to 40 sites (with a mixture of leasehold and freehold sites nationwide) by the end of this year with annual sales revenues predicted to exceed £150m.

When seeking funding Ascona initially went to a traditional lenders, but high street banks deemed their growth plans too ambitious. Frustrated, they turned to ThinCats which worked to provide a bespoke credit-backed growth facility, aligned to Ascona management’s strategy.

ThinCats and Ascona harnessed the wealth of experience across the south Wales professional market to deliver the deal including Broomfield Alexander accountants in Cardiff, Morgan LaRoche solicitors in Swansea and Price & Kelway solicitors in Milford Haven.

Darren Briggs, managing director of Ascona Group Holdings, said: “From the outset, ThinCats was clearly committed to support our accelerated growth plans. ThinCats has set out to challenge the lethargy and inflexibility that exists from traditional business lending providers. By assessing opportunities from a bespoke lending perspective, rather than ticking boxes in a rigid format, it can support ambitious and well-structured businesses to achieve their objectives.

“By the end of this year, we predict that our annual sales will have grown circa 3,000% over just 24 months. I am delighted to be sharing our growth strategy with ThinCats and developing our relationship further.”

Alison Whistance, director of business development for South West and Wales, ThinCats, said: “We are delighted to support the growth of Ascona and look forward to providing additional facilities to enable their further expansion. I am proud to support this fast growth west Wales business and delighted to have worked with several local Welsh advisors on this transaction.

“It’s great to see a shift in business lending where it’s not just the mainstream lenders that dictate growth, businesses like ThinCats are plugging the funding gap and supporting those businesses that make up the backbone of the UK’s economy.”

ThinCats and Ascona are already discussing the next tranche of funding for further acquisitions over the coming months.