Our ‘Tales from the Funding Front Line’ blog series showcases how we’re working with clients to keep their businesses moving during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recently talked to Beth Taylor, one of our Relationship Managers about some of her clients and how we have been supporting them.

COVID-19 has had a vast impact on UK businesses. We’ve seen it with many of our clients and introducers and statistics show it too – by April, a quarter of companies in the UK had temporarily closed their doors, while 8.7m UK employees have now been furloughed.

The pandemic has meant many businesses have needed to pivot and adapt to continue trading, not only in the ways they work but also in their areas of focus. Our clients have been doing some amazing things, and in this blog we highlight a few who have really taken a leap to change tack and focus their attention on providing NHS and other essential workers with the PPE they so desperately need.

One business doing just that is BSJ Fixings & Components, which specialises in the supply of precision turned parts, fasteners, fixings and other specialist components to various industries worldwide. COVID-19 saw the vast majority of its core clients close down, but demand for one small area of its business ramped up: selling PPE-grade facemasks over the counter. The team saw the opportunity to scale-up these operations during the pandemic and the decision was made to begin working with its UK partners with links to local councils and become an official source for PPE for NHS trusts and other essential services.

Similarly, Elite GSS, which traditionally focuses on wholesale and distribution of specialist construction products – like timber, temporary ground protection and footbridges – also found its core business coming to a stand-still due to the pandemic. Given its construction focus, Elite already had contacts to gain access to PPE-grade facemasks, hand sanitiser and industrial-quality signage. By adapting to what was happening around them due to the crisis, it quickly began supplying PPE to the NHS, care homes and traditional partners, as well as producing social distancing signage for use on construction sites once they started to reopen.

It wasn’t just our traditional financial support these clients were reliant on (both have invoice finance and trade finance facilities with us), but instead our advice and support on how best to progress with new ways of working so they could keep trading and provide a vital service during these difficult times. Following our guidance, both agreed upfront payment terms with the organisations to which they’d be supplying PPE to ensure their cashflow remains as strong as possible. This ensured both BSJ and Elite have not only continued working throughout the pandemic but also avoided furloughing staff completely.

Going above and beyond for our clients is what continues to strengthen our relationships with them and ensures we’re living up our promise to be their funding partner of choice. It’s this close relationship that has allowed us to support them in helping essential workers continue their great work through the pandemic. This type of cooperation is what will help businesses come out of the other side of the coronavirus crisis as strong and healthy as possible.