A FORMER senior BBC executive now running a semi-rural bed and breakfast has said his change of career has gone "miles better" than he expected.
Jim Duff and his partner Aoife Sheridan, a nurse, decided they wanted to run their own hospitality business at the start of this year and began hunting for the right opportunity.
After identifying Rosebank House in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, the pair initially struggled to secure the financing they needed, with one lender offering them an interest rate of 8.99 per cent.
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In spite of being repeatedly told by financial advisers not to approach a high street bank, Mr Duff decided to walk into a Royal Bank of Scotland branch to see what they had to offer.
He said the staff there were stringent in their lending criteria but also helpful in suggesting ways to make the couple's business plan work.
Mr Duff said: "They actually had some interest in what we were trying to do."
A £160,000 loan to buy Rosebank was eventually secured, with Mr Duff and Ms Sheridan relocating from Edinburgh and opening the doors of their new venture in May.
Since then the pair have worked to enhance the business by setting up a website with online booking, putting in additional payment options and being more proactive in marketing their six rooms.
Mr Duff, who was once in charge of BBC Scotland's flagship Reporting Scotland bulletin and also held senior posts in radio and online as well as working for Sky, GMTV and Reuters, said things had progressed more quickly than expected, with August occupancy at about 90 per cent.
He said: "It has gone miles better than we ever thought. It hadn't been opening in the winter, there wasn't really a website and it didn't accept plastic. "It was a perfectly adequate [business] but it was old-fashioned. We have changed quite a lot of the linen and beds and I did a marketing drive.
"On TripAdvisor we have gone from 13th or 14th in Blairgowrie to fifth."
Mr Duff indicated the plan was to operate all year round, and said: "Where we are - just on the way out of Blairgowrie on the way to Glenshee - we can get some skiing interest. At the end of the day we have the six rooms sitting there, so what is the point of closing up?"
Allister Page, from RBS, said: "The business is thriving and the reviews are testament to that."