Polka Dot Travel secures £1.2m Coronavirus Business Loan

Growing travel agency obtains CBILS funding to protect against impact of COVID-19...

Following support from Stuart Dutton, Head of High Growth at Sedulo, Polka Dot Travel have successfully obtained a £1.2m loan from Barclays under the CBILS loan scheme to ensure the business can continue operating throughout what is an extremely difficult time for the industry.

How Polka Dot Travel have been impacted and managed the COVID-19 crisis...

  • Who are they?

    Founded by Philippa Wilcox and Helen Johnson in 2013, the business employs nearly 100 people with stores throughout the North West, North Wales and West Midlands.

  • How has COVID-19 impacted the business?

    Following a strong performance to the year, Polka Dot Travel was hit hard following the lockdown announcement in March, with the Aviation and Travel industry arriving at a stand-still.

    Travel restrictions resulted in cancellations of pre-existing holidays and social distancing prevented the footfall in their high-street stores during what would normally be a cash-generative peak season moving into the Summer months.

    Managing Director, Mark Johnson, said:

    “Whilst we have suffered from the inevitable reduction in sales and processing of refunds, we were keen to ensure that we could still provide the high-quality service that our customer have come to expect. We have been working with unknown factors but the lockdown has had a huge impact on our business."

  • The furloughing of staff

    With nearly 100 staff, Polka Dot were left with no choice but to furlough 75% of their workforce through the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, a process managed entirely by Sedulo.

    Speaking on the Furlough process, Mark said:

    “Unfortunately we had to place a number of our team on Furlough through the Job Retention Scheme. We still needed core staff to help our customers re-book holidays or arrange new bookings for when the restrictions are lifted or process refunds for our customers."

  • Applying for the Coronavirus Business Loan

    Despite receiving cash from the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme and deferring their rental payments, they were quickly approaching a bottleneck within the business and chose to apply for a loan with Sedulo through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to improve their cash flow.

    Speaking on the application process, Mark said:

    "Barclays processed the CBILS loan diligently and efficiently, with the money approved and made available to us just within a couple of weeks of applying. These additional funds assure cash flow requirements through to next Spring, effectively securing the future of Polka Dot and guaranteeing our ability to continue employing our team and servicing our customers.”

  • Steve West, Barclays Relationship Manager, said:

    “The travel sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, but Barclays has worked with this successful and rapidly growing Company for years, this facility will ensure that the company will get through this tough period, and come out stronger for the experience with the confidence and financial headroom to be ready to reopen fully when the time comes."

  • Light at the end of the tunnel

    Jet2 and EasyJet have announced the return of some flights in June and European countries are beginning to open their borders, which is welcomed positive news for the tourism industry.

    Consumer confidence is set to return, with 80% of people in the UK still wanting to go abroad in the next year. Due to their initial response, customer satisfaction at Polka Dot remains high as they aim to use the pandemic as a platform to create a stronger business.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the toughest and most difficult challenge that I have ever faced in business. However, the support we have received from Sedulo has made it far more manageable and has been invaluable.

Stuart and the wider team have offered support on a daily basis, helping with finance and funding issues and keeping us up-to-date with all the Government schemes. They have taken care of everything from the Job Retention Scheme to our CBILS loan application.

Sedulo have made this daunting period easier to handle and have kept me positive all the way through – Thank you.

Mark Johnson
Polka Dot Travel

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