Maintenance firm back in business following £250k loan

Luke and Rachael O'Connor

A company which provides maintenance services to the social housing and care sector has reopened following a £250,000 CBILS-backed loan from NPIF-FW Capital Debt Finance, managed by FW Capital and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Liverpool-based General Trade Maintenance, trading as GTM Property Maintenance, was set up two years ago by director Luke O’Connor who runs the company with his wife Rachael.

They built the business from the ground up and won contracts with major housing associations, local councils and care homes offering renovations, conversions, and emergency repairs, reaching a turnover of almost £800,000 in the first year of trading.

Despite having a healthy forecast of work scheduled for the remainder of 2020 the pandemic severely affected the supply chain, forcing the company to temporarily close its doors and furlough its workforce.

Once the business reopened, working capital was needed to order supplies for jobs and bring staff back to the maintenance business.

FW Capital provided a £250,000 NPIF loan backed by CBILS which covered costs until the business began fully trading again in August.

Luke O’Connor said: “Without the loan we would have run out of money and not have reopened. It has saved our business, 20 permanent jobs and those of 10 contractors.

“I am so grateful to NPIF and FW Capital – they have been brilliant. The banks wouldn’t lend to us because we are a young business and couldn’t provide two years’ accounts.

“FW Capital looked at us as an individual company and could see that we had a strong trading history and were in the position we were through no fault of our own. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

“We have had a strong return and expect to reach a turnover of £1.6m this year. All our staff are back from furlough and we are looking for more people.”

FW Capital investment executive Carol Bolland said: “Luke and Rachael have built up an excellent company, but like many other business owners they were severely affected by COVID.

“We’re really pleased to have been able to help the company through this difficult period and also indirectly help the social housing and care sector for which they carry out such important work.”

Asif Hamid, chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “I am delighted that GTM has been able to operate again enabling them to provide critical services to the social housing and care sector.

“The funding from CBILS is designed to help support cashflow needs for businesses that have been disrupted by the pandemic and this is a great example of how this support can be used effectively. It is also encouraging that the CBILS has been extended until the end of November in order to help even more businesses who may be struggling.”

Sue Barnard at British Business Bank said: “CBILS has been a lifeline to many businesses across the North, with NPIF continuing to play its role as a source of vital investment.

“We are proud to be supporting businesses like GTM Property Maintenance following the disruption brought about by lockdown, in turn saving jobs and helping the UK economy to get back on its feet.”

FW Capital offers NPIF loans backed by CBILS from £100,000-£750,000 to SMEs that are looking for financial support as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline for CBILS applications is November 30, for UK businesses.

FW Capital can provide loans in the North of England with a focus on businesses in Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Tees Valley.

CBILS, delivered through British Business Bank accredited lenders, is designed to support the continued provision of finance to UK smaller businesses (SMEs) during the COVID-19 outbreak. 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.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

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