S G Gemmell Ltd

“Our work fell off a cliff, I had a lot of stock bought ready to do installations which were all pulled. The care homes we work with immediately said they had to delay the work. But I still had to pay my suppliers”

SG Gemmell Ltd supply and repair leading brands of commercial catering and refrigeration equipment across the South of England. Headed up by Sean Gemmell and his team of three dedicated engineers, they work with hotels, restaurants and care homes to deliver a competitive and highly reputable service. 

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, Gemmell’s customers were forced to either close their premises or operate in a vastly different way. Sean felt the effects of the crisis almost immediately. All of the company’s current jobs were put on hold. This meant Sean was unable to pay his suppliers for stock bought for live installations and maintenance works. 

Facing huge financial challenges, Sean approached Askif and explored the CBILS loan scheme. Following a short application process Askif was able to offer SG Gemmell a £50,000 loan. The company also furloughed their staff to help ease the burden. 

When the government launched the Bounce Back scheme, Sean decided to settle his CBILS loan with Askif and explore a Bounce Back loan with his bank. This meant he could access a loan of the same amount which was 100% guaranteed by the government, Askif was happy to guide this transition with all the support necessary for SG Gemmell to choose the best financing option for the business. 

Joanna Hill, Commercial Director, AskIf, commented: “The work SG Gemmell carries out is really vital to lots of public facing businesses who have been forced to close due to this crisis. It’s really alarming the number of companies we’ve been working with that have felt the effect of this so quickly.

“We’re happy we were able to help Sean when he needed it most with an application for a CBILS loan, and we were more than happy to help when a Bounce Back became the most suitable option for him and the future of his company. As an organisation we are very concerned with making sure our service is tailored, fit for purpose and ethical for our customers.”

Established in 2007 by Sean Gemmell, SG Gemmell Ltd supply and repair leading brands of commercial catering and refrigeration equipment across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. They work with the catering industry in the main, servicing hotels, restaurants and pubs but they also undertake work for other environments where this type of equipment is required like residential care homes. 

In 2015, the company started to take on staff. Sean’s full team is now himself and three other engineers, in his own words: “When we started taking on staff this is when the company started to make a bit of money”. 2019 was Gemmell’s most profitable year in business yet. 

Unfortunately, when the Coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK, Gemmell’s business was affected immediately and quite dramatically due to the nature of their work. The majority of care homes were closed to all outside trades and catering premises were shut down temporarily by the government. This meant Sean was unable to pay his suppliers. 

At this point Sean furloughed all of his staff, leaving only himself to carry out any emergency jobs. 

Sean commented: “Basically our work fell off a cliff, I had a lot of stock bought ready to do installations which were all pulled. The care homes we work with immediately said they had to delay the work. But I still had to pay my suppliers. I’ve got a lot of stock that I can’t invoice to the customer but I’ve had to continue paying my suppliers.”

With uncertainty mounting and no sign of the restrictions being lifted, Sean contacted Askif to explore financing options. Askif was able to set up S G Gemmell with a £50,000 CBILS loan with a 12-month interest free repayment period to help Sean keep his business stable throughout this time. 

Sean added: “The loan came in very handy. I’d have had to let one of my engineers go otherwise and having spent many years looking for the right people, I didn’t want to have to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of finding another team of engineers when things return to normal.”

When the government launched the Bounce Back loan scheme which meant businesses could access a loan up to £50,000 which had a lower interest rate and a 100% Government guaranteed, Sean decided it would be a better financial decision to pursue this option with his own bank. Askif was able to arrange a settlement on his CBILS loan quickly and easily, as they do not have any early repayment penalties.

Talking about the impact the loan will have on his business, Sean added: “It will help my company hugely because the cash flow will be a lot better. It’s cheaper than an overdraft and it’s nice to be able to pay a supplier up front to get a discount. 

The loan is also set to have a positive future impact on the company as Sean will be able to keep his staff for when they become busier once their customers reopen their doors. Sean said: “Once things are back to normal, we’ll be very very busy. Any machinery with a seal needs to be regularly turned on and used. After weeks of no use we’ll have a lot of customers needing maintenance works. And fast. I’ve already been out to a few hotels that are doing emergency checks and have found leaking dishwashers when they’ve re-entered the premises.”

Giving his advice to other small businesses facing harsh financial realities, Sean commented: “If it’s interest-free and you can afford it, find it and just take it. Even if it sits there and you don’t need it, having it there will give you peace of mind and help you sleep at night.

“It is what it is with this crisis, I think the economy will be fine once we’re out of it. Everything seems like its constant bashing the government but in my opinion the chancellor has done a blinding job.”

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