Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Funding helps Lincolnshire fire safety business through COVID-19 cashflow crunch

A fire safety business whose customers include the NHS, including the Nightingale Hospitals, is being helped through a potential COVID-19 cashflow crunch with the support of a loan from Lloyds Bank.

The funding has allowed Lincolnshire-based Safelincs to pay for imported products in containers which were ordered before the UK imposed lockdown restrictions, while the business waited for demand to recover.

As well as supplying hospitals, Safelincs provides fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, fire doors and other safety equipment to schools, universities, police forces and holiday providers including Airbnb and Forest Holidays. It also generates revenues from contracts to service its products.

COVID-19 has meant the business has not always been able to safely access premises to install or inspect equipment. As a result, income from business customers since March was lower than forecast before the virus hit the UK, though revenues from its retail arm that sells direct to consumers held up better.

Initially, a third of Safelincs’ employees were furloughed while the remainder were working from home or complying with strict social distancing measures in its 70,000 sq ft distribution warehouse.

The company, which is based in Alford and has annual turnover of £17m, has secured the loan from Lloyds Bank via the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Now that the business has started to recover, it is expecting to repay the loan before the end of the 12 months interest-free period.

Managing director Harry Dewick-Eisele said: “Our products save lives, so demand has historically always held up well but COVID-19 was a totally different challenge. A rapid and sharp contraction at the beginning of the lockdown put strain on our cashflow and without the support from Lloyds we would have struggled to quickly find our footing again.

“This cash support made all the difference. We are back in our stride again and have already brought back some furloughed team members, with a plan to call back more staff.

“We’re a resilient company and with lockdown measures beginning to ease we think we’re in a good position as the country moves towards some kind of normality again.”

Nick Flanagan, relationship director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Harry and his team have a great company providing essential products and services nationally. Safelincs has a strong and loyal client base and I’m confident the business will continue to operate and grow and protect local jobs as we support it through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

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