A boss who overcame Coronavirus and went on to successfully steer his office supplies business through the lockdown has secured a £200,000 NPIF loan to support his growth plans.
Citrus, which employs the majority of its 18 staff at its premises in Nelson, Lancashire, and has an additional office in Nottingham, supplies businesses throughout England and Scotland ranging from SMEs to large corporates and Premier League football clubs. The company has grown steadily in the past few years. However in early March, after returning from a skiing holiday in Austria , Gordon was rushed to hospital with Covid-19 and spent seven days in intensive care.
Within a week of his discharge, the lockdown was introduced and he was back at work helping the business to navigate the changes. With many workplaces closed, demand for office products initially fell sharply and to make matters worse, the supply chain was disrupted. The company reacted rapidly – delivering direct to workers’ homes, re-organising logistics, introducing a new PPE and sanitiser range and seeking out other new products and suppliers.
While many workplaces have reopened, Citrus continues to diversify including the launch of its own branded workwear range.
Gordon, who acquired the business in 2008 after a career in the industry, said: “The past few months have been a huge challenge. We’ve not only had to deal with a drop in revenue, but also disruptions to supplies and logistics. However we are now in a much stronger position and recognise that changes of this type also bring opportunities – for example to make acquisitions or win new clients as companies seek more competitive suppliers. The funding will give us a breathing space to take stock, explore new possibilities and put our plans into action.”
Pete Sorsby, Investment Director at Mercia, added: “Citrus had been growing strongly in the period before the pandemic. Gordon and the team have shown real entrepreneurial flair in adapting to the new business landscape. This funding will provide additional working capital to help the business adjust and take advantage of expansion opportunities the changes have created.”
Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership said: “The way in which Citrus has adapted to a decrease in demand from established markets and identified new diversification opportunities is a brilliant example of creativity and resilience in these challenging times. We are increasingly hearing of Lancashire businesses showing real ingenuity to find innovative solutions in the wake of Covid-19 and it is fantastic that Citrus, and others, are able to make use of schemes such as CBILS to full effect and make the most of new market opportunities.”
The deadline for CBILS loans applications has been extended to 30 November. NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance can provide loans in the North of England with a focus on Leeds City Region, Sheffield City Region, York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding and the Humber.
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).
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.