A message from Steve Low
We have been busy processing many requests for payment holidays and restructuring of facilities over the last few weeks and thankfully we seem to be coming to the end of this process now, having spoken to most of our customer base. Thank-you for your patience if we haven’t been quite as quick as normal with coming back to you in writing confirming these arrangements, but we took the view that processing the payments via our system and making sure they were set up correctly was the priority, and not the fine detail of paperwork that can always follow on.
Having spoken to a number of people in our industry on the finance side, I know what a stretch it has been to change systems so quickly under immense time pressure and I’d like to thank our admin teams who have gone above and beyond to pull this together at such short notice. I know how much our client base has appreciated this at a time when all they could see was their income streams collapsing dramatically around them.
Encouragingly we have now seen the Government support filtering through, firstly in terms of the ‘Job Retention Scheme’ and now in more limited form on the ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS)’ and ‘Bounce Back’ loans, which will give some respite to operators through the coming months. The future challenge that we see though, is for the many operators that will have to effectively weather an 18 month period with little income, coming out of the slow 2019/20 winter season, into a massively disrupted / non existent 2020 summer and then having to face another winter with no fat in their business. The support on offer now, does insulate some from the worst of the pressure, however when asked to re-engage and provide more services with a lower level of support, the strain on their businesses will increase substantially. Without further specific, sector support this will be a huge ask for many in the industry, and as such it is encouraging to see our trade association, the CPT, being so responsive in their lobbying of Government under the ‘Back Britain’s Coaches’ campaign.
Social distancing looks set to be with us for a number of months in one form or the other, and we have already supplied vehicles to operators that have had to increase their capacity to allow this. We are looking at providing vehicles with modifications to both enhance driver safety and clearly show passengers where they can safely sit. As we emerge from our lockdown the key challenge for our industry will be to provide a visibly safe environment for people to travel on, and give them the confidence to not take the easy option and sit in their private cars clogging the roads up with congestion and increasing environmental emissions. It’s difficult to remember at the moment, but Coronavirus might be the current battle in a long term war against Climate Change.
We are still very much open for business and have already started dealing with funding requests from operators looking to purchase and rent vehicles. Also it’s important to remember that whilst a loan has to be paid back, it can be restructured to make payments more affordable and careful management of equity in assets can help bridge short term cash requirements and protect your business. If you’d like a chat in confidence about restructuring some of your existing lending then we’re always interested in hearing from you and seeing how we can help.
Keep safe and hopefully over the weekend we’ll all hear some good news from Government on the roadmap for lifting these unprecedented restrictions.
Group Managing Director, Mistral Group
01565 621 881