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Lending SMEs a helping hand during lockdown

24 July 2020

As the UK looks to recover from coronavirus, we reflect on the financial implications the pandemic has had on some of our existing business customers, how lockdown impacted their operations, and how, with our support, they’re able to start planning for the future.

Working co-operatively has been key to helping SMEs stay afloat during these unprecedented times. Back in May, we announced our accreditation to offer the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to our existing customers. These government-backed lending initiatives were designed to support UK businesses losing revenue and seeing their cash flow disrupted as a result of coronavirus. Hear from some of the businesses we supported:

Alternative Foods Limited, a vegan food business who currently supplies to major supermarket chains were one of the first to get access to this help. Coronavirus massively impacted their cash flow, due to a 40% reduction in sales. Also due to government social distancing guidelines, the production team were running at half the capacity, with the majority of employees being on furlough. This meant delays in launching key products, and stock-piling was required to ensure they could continue to meet customer demand.

The Bank was able to support Alternative Foods limited with a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. With this support, Alternative Foods Limited were able to cover short term cash flow challenges, as well as support the growth of the profitable OGGS® cake business to accelerate and develop the OGGS® Aquafaba product.

Hannah Carter, Managing Director at Alternative Foods Ltd, said: “Our Co-operative Bank relationship manager enabled us to clearly present the business case that allowed the Bank to understand our business potential and have confidence in supporting us. We were the first company to apply for and be granted a CBILS loan with The Co-operative Bank, and although the Bank had to create its own processes to allow CBILS to even be offered in the first place, the application and draw-down happened within a short period of time. The Co-operative Bank has been and remains a core partner for us during uncertain times, and we look forward to the relationship growing alongside our business in the coming years.”

To find out more about Alternative Foods Limited, visit: www.loveoggs.com

VMI is a quality Drama and Documentary camera rental company based in London and Bristol, supplying cameras and lenses for UK TV productions. This is small company employing around 30 employees across two sites. Since the outbreak in March, VMI halted trading in all four of its business activities for 12 weeks. Without any means to generate revenue over this period, it was crucial to negotiate with all suppliers, banks and funders in order to agree temporary repayment holidays, since the company relies upon finance to purchase its equipment, without which, their cash reserves would quickly be exhausted.

VMI have resumed business as of mid-March, albeit in a very limited capacity, and are now ready to draw-down on the CBILS agreement arranged by The Co-operative Bank. This will help with the company’s cash flow and support it throughout the remainder of the production season and to help it survive during the quieter months.

Barry Bassett, Managing Director at VMI, said: "A good working relationship with our bank is crucially important to every business and The Co-operative Bank have not disappointed. They have been really understanding and keen to support us through this difficult period and put together a CBILS offer which will be really appreciated as we now come out of the other side of lockdown."
To find out more about VMI, visit: www.vmi.tv

Harry Bates Limited is a family-owned, family-run large bathroom showroom and plumbers merchant with a 53 year history. Harry Bates had to close their retail store with the guidance from the government since March. Due to no business coming in and the uncertainty on when they can reopen, Harry Bates needed some financial help to ensure they could still pay bills and salaries.

The Bank helped Harry Bates with a Bounce Back Loan, which has allowed them to keep their business going and start back in a much stronger financial position.

David Bates, Managing Director at Harry Bates Limited, said: "With the quick efficient service from The Co-operative Bank team it took less than a week from applying to the cash in the bank."

To find out more about Harry Bates Limited, visit: www.harrybates.co.uk

This remains a challenging time for business and we are conscious of the needs of our SME customers. Visit our support page for more information here.

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