Christie Finance has revealed it tripled the number of pub buyers it secured funding for in the first half of 2010 - compared to the previous year. The company said the increase showed that banks were still keen to lend to the sector, with the help of government-backed loans initiative the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme. It said it helped to secure funding for 24 pub buyers in the first six months of this year, compared to eight in the first half of 2009. This included "a number" of first-time buyers. David Grant, head of business mortgages at Christie Finance, said: “It’s encouraging for the whole licensed trade market to see such an increase in activity and particularly for first-time buyers, who have had such difficulty getting into business of late. "Hopefully, this indicates that the banks are ‘open for business’ at last.” Recent deals include helping first-time operator Damon Godding buy the Duck Inn, Newney Green, Essex, for an undisclosed sum in March. Christie Finance also helped secure funding for another first-time pub buyer, the Funfair Brewery Company, to acquire the Chequers Inn in Elston, near Nottingham. Both pubs were acquired through Christie Finance’s sister company, licensed property agent Christie & Co.