George Roberts NW saw orders fall during the coronavirus lockdown and has now secured a critical Government-backed loan via Barclays to boost cashflow. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool scaffolding firm George Roberts NW has secured a £1m lifeline after seeing orders slump during the coronavirus lockdown.
The 28-year-old business supplies scaffolding and access equipment to multiple sectors across the UK, including industrial, offshore, nuclear, oil and gas and the food and drink industry.
However, with the effective shut down of the construction industry, many of the clients that they serve have not been able to continue with planned projects and consequently have had to defer a number of their capital and development projects. This has caused George Roberts significant cash flow challenges.
Now the firm has secured £1m from Barclays via the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). This extra finance will ensure it can weather the storm of the current crisis in the UK construction sector.
The directors along with Barclays, set out to devise a contingency plan to protect the business during the lockdown period and ensure strong long-term future liquidity. The loan will cover business costs and overcome the loss of all-important spring and summer sales.
Mark Roach, finance director of George Roberts NW, said: “During March and into April, following the Government lockdown, we quite naturally experienced a reduction in orders due mainly to most construction sites being totally shut down and inaccessible.
“Fortunately, although significant, this was not as destructive and damaging to our business as to some of our competitors, due to the diversity of markets we operate in.
“We are considered an essential service and fortunately able to stay open to service these clients, while carefully following Government guidelines to ensure the health and wellbeing of our loyal workforce.
“Our plan factored into account immediately furloughing a small group of staff, although strong continuous employment still remained vital to handle existing orders and new orders still coming in.
“The second part of plan involved applying for a CBILS loan with Barclays, again guaranteeing liquidity and maintain a platform to ensure the business retains and even improves its status in the market place going forward.”
Graham Duckworth, Barclays relationship director, added: “I’ve been hugely impressed by both the resilience and the agility of the board directors to quickly develop a robust contingency plan to help safeguard the future of the business.”