Newent ladder maker steps up to Covid challenge

Ladder & Fencing Industries

A fourth-generation Gloucestershire ladder manufacturer has been able to maintain its day-to-day operations during the coronavirus outbreak and secure the jobs of its 40 staff, thanks to a £400,000 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) package from Lloyds Bank.

Newent-based Ladder and Fencing Industries (LFI) was established in 1947 and has manufactured more than 100,000 kitemarked ladder and stepladders so far this year. Its broad product range, which includes step ladders, warehouse steps, roof ladders and extension ladders, spans light-weight domestic requirements through to more heavy-duty industrial usage.

As the majority of LFI’s customers operate within the construction sector and were forced to stop work when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the business faced significant cashflow issues. The firm secured a £400,000 CBILS funding package from Lloyds Bank which has enabled it to maintain its operations during the crisis and ensure continuity of raw material supplies, whilst also being able to meet its own operational overheads and staff costs.

The loan from Lloyds Bank has also allowed LFI to continue with new product development projects during lockdown, that would otherwise have had to be postponed or cancelled.

Thanks to the construction sector coming out of lockdown, LFI has seen a strong recovery in demand for its products from the sector. This uplift has been further complimented by a substantial increase in online orders from the domestic market, which has enabled the business to add an extra shift to its daily operations.

Andy Ferris, Commercial Director, LFI said: “COVID-19 has brought a certain level of chaos to our business. As we primarily supply our products into the construction sector, we initially saw a substantial dip in income, but this has recovered since lockdown measures have been relaxed and the construction industry has got back to work. We’ve also seen a significant uplift in demand from the domestic market, as more people tackle DIY jobs.

“It’s been a turbulent time, with ups and downs, so the loan from Lloyds Bank has given us peace of mind to focus on maintaining our operations, whilst also securing jobs for our workforce.”

Mark Smith, Relationship Director, Lloyds Bank said: “We’ve been banking partner to LFI for over forty years and know it to be a business with a sound reputation for manufacturing high-quality, reliable and safe products. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the business needed to respond and adapt quickly to the outbreak, in order to ensure continuity of its key raw material supply. It’s now trading back out of the pandemic, as lockdown measures are gradually relaxed and with the re-opening of the construction sector.

“We know companies up and down the country are experiencing similar pressures, and we’ll be by their side to help. This includes lending through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, as well as capital repayment holidays on loans for businesses that have been affected.”