Toppings secure £250,000 pandemic recovery loan

Hugh and Cornwelia Topping outside their Edinburgh bookstore.

Hugh and Cornwelia Topping outside their Edinburgh bookstore. The company has secured a £250,000 pandemic recovery loan from their bankers. - Credit: Toppings

Topping & Co has revealed it has secured a £250,000 business interruption loan from their bankers to see them through the pandemic.  

The family family-run booksellers were among the many non-essential retailers forced to close their doors to customers when the pandemic hit in March 2020. 

With face-to-face transactions previously making up around 95 per cent of sales, the business was hit hard by the closure of its stores in Ely, Bath, St Andrews and Edinburgh. 

They were also forced to cancel their popular literary events and reading groups. 

Toppings of Bath

Toppings of Bath - Credit: Toppings

With sales dropping significantly, co-founder Robert Topping and his son, Hugh, decided to take action. 

They began to sell books over the phone from their homes and improving the company’s website to increase online revenue. 

The much-loved retailer also continued to work with authors from across the UK to curate reading lists and collections for visitors to its website. 

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And they ensured delivery of signed copies of the latest fiction and non-fiction books to its loyal base of subscribers every month. 

Toppings of Fife

Toppings of Fife - Credit: Toppings

Robert Topping, co-founder of Topping & Company Booksellers, said: “The relationship between a community and its independent bookshop is something unique, especially in times of uncertainty. 

“While we’re so grateful that our loyal customers have continued to support us through online sales during these hard times, books are all about meeting people and we firmly believe there’s still life in old-fashioned book selling. 

With the support of a £250,000 loan from Lloyds Bank via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the company was able to continue paying for stock while its stores were closed.


And the changes to its business model have enabled the firm to look ahead to the reopening of the retail sector with confidence. 

Topping & Company has also used the downtime to invest in plans to open a new store in central Bath.  

Toppings of Ely

Toppings of Ely - Credit: Toppings -

The company believes the 4,000 sq. ft premises, due to begin work in March, will be the largest independent bookshop to open in the UK in more than two decades. 

Robert said: “The support we’ve received from Lloyds Bank has left us in a position where we can look ahead with optimism. 

“We’re now eager to welcome people back to our stores when restrictions allow.”