Home improvement businesses supported through Covid-19
A company that makes bespoke fitted furniture says that a six-figure funding package from Lloyds Bank means it will return from lockdown ready to capitalise on customers’ growing desire to work and socialise at home.
Greater Manchester-based Bluebell Fitted Furniture was founded by directors Mike and Alison Reuben in 1992 and specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of made-to-measure furniture in people’s homes.
It was heading for a record year in 2020, until it was forced to close down its operations, including its showroom in Sale and factory in Altrincham, and furlough its 24 staff.
Alison said: “We were looking to have one of the best years since we started our business 29 years ago but, like just about everyone else in business, we literally had to ‘shut up shop’.”
Now Lloyds Bank has provided Bluebell with a £150,000 loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to support its working capital, though the firm has continued to receive new enquiries from customers during the shutdown.
Bluebell hopes to benefit from a boom in home working, which Mike and Alison anticipate will drive demand from households to have offices installed in their homes.
And they predict more people will want to have bars fitted so they can socialise with friends without having to visit busy pubs and bars.
Mike said: “Lloyds Bank was able to arrange this funding very quickly, which meant we could pay all our suppliers, which we felt was our moral obligation.
“Working from home is going to be the way forward, so we anticipate that after lockdown people will have new ideas of how they would like to improve their home and instead of travelling abroad in 2020 they will be keen to spend their hard-earned money improving their environment.
“When we return to work, we will hold a full day of health and safety training on safe working practices for all our staff and we’ll be writing to all our customers to reassure them about the measures we’ll be taking, including social distancing and wearing protective clothing.”
The award-winning £1.6m turnover business had been on course to achieve revenues of over £2m this year, until the coronavirus outbreak.
Michael Downes, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “Bluebell is a business with a fantastic reputation for quality and a strong pipeline of work that has been interrupted by the coronavirus lockdown.
“This funding will help it bridge this period of uncertainty so it can return as strong as ever.
“Lloyds Bank is working closely with business customers right across the UK to guide them through this unprecedented challenge and help them access the support that’s available, including through CBILS.”