On 21st April, The Toy Shop in Cockermouth became the first business to receive a funding boost through Cumbria’s only accredited delivery partner for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Enterprise Answers.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is designed to support the continued provision of finance to UK smaller businesses (SME’s) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scheme enables lenders to provide facilities of up to £5m to smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. It supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities.
Independent lender and family-business supporter, Enterprise Answers are offering the government backed CBILS loan facility to family and non-family SME’s based in either Cumbria, North Lancashire or the Yorkshire Dales.
Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Grahame Latus (pictured) said, “For us it’s about enabling businesses to realise & unleash their potential through the provision of appropriate finance.
“We are proud to be the only Cumbria based CBILS Delivery Partner, of some 48 nationwide and we will endeavour to assist as many SME’s as we can through these challenging times.”
The Toy Shop in Cockermouth run by husband and wife team, Jonty and Fiona Chippendale has been a feature of the towns bustling high street for over twenty years. When the government announced the first measures to control the virus, the couple discussed their response;
“We made the decision that it would be too tricky to trade without risk of spreading the disease so we let all our customers and suppliers know that we would close” said Jonty.
“We sat down and looked at our cash flow and it quickly became obvious that if we didn’t get a cash injection, we wouldn’t be able to buy stock and recommence trading on the other side”.
Sadly, enduring hard times is familiar territory for the family business, having been flooded twice during the last several years. Owner Jonty believes this has equipped them with the necessary skills to deal with such challenges, saying “Dealing with adversity has prepared us for coping with tricky situations. If you look around, help is always there.
“This time we knew we couldn’t predict how bad the situation might get, so we set out to apply for all the available help in order to plan for the worst-case scenario”.
“We spoke to our accountant about the situation, who recommended Enterprise Answers to us as a suitable lender. We had begun discussions with our own bank but found it was impossible to make any progress.”
For lender, Enterprise Answers, once the details of the scheme and the accredited partners and lenders were announced by the government, hundreds of enquiries from businesses across the region followed.
“We had to quickly set up a system to efficiently handle all the enquiries coming in, knowing what a worrying time it is for business owners. We enlisted the Family Business Network to assist us with managing those initial enquiries.” said Grahame.
Sue Howorth, Founder and Co-Director of The Family Business Network said, “Enterprise Answers have been closely involved with the work that our Network does within the family business community for several years and they are a fantastic advocate of family businesses. When they approached us to help with the administration of the first stage of the CBILS process, we were more than happy to lend a hand.”
Grahame explained, “These are unprecedented times for businesses, especially the independent retailers who perhaps are feeling the economic impact hardest if they are unable to trade during the current Government lock down. When we were approached by Jonty from The Toy Shop at Cockermouth, we knew it was a business we had to work with.”
“Jonty & his wife Fiona were fantastic to engage with, they fully appreciated our application process and ensured that we had all the information we needed to assess their application for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme”
Grahame added, “In fact, the information was spot on and it took just 4 working days from picking up the application, to assess it, approve it and deposit the funds in their business bank account. The Toy Shop became the first CBILS loan that we released.”
Speaking about the CBILS application process, Jonty said, “Embarking on an application like this is always a little daunting at first but it was very manageable. Our experience was that aside from the money being essential, the application itself was a useful exercise to go through, as we realised that we hadn’t sat down and done a business plan for a while.
“The process helped us to think through the what if’s and to crystallise what we’d do on the other side. With the help of Enterprise Answers, we were able to apply for the loan quickly. Our advice to other family businesses is not to bury your head in the sand, but be realistic about the situation, look at what help you need and then make a start”.
Grahame of Enterprise Answers added, “Working with businesses such as The Toy Shop will help to ensure that when we emerge from this lockdown, Cumbria retains many of the characteristics that help make it one of the most desirable places to visit.”
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS).