Produced in partnership with UK Government Vital funds got us back on the road have. So it had a massive impact on ourselves. “We had to continue trading because we supply the food sector and the white delivery van man, so our business had to continue. We had to pay suppliers. We had no choice.” But help came from the UK Government in the form of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme which provided £500,000 through the Ulster Bank. The family-run firm could also take advantage of the furlough scheme to save over 50 jobs. “Had we not been able to get the Government loan scheme, it would have had a huge impact,” says Norman. “Our business, in essence, dropped probably 75% within the first month. Thankfully that has grown steadily back since then.” The Covid-19 crisis came at the worst possible time for Kerr’s Tyres & Auto. Cash reserves were already low because the firm – one of Northern Ireland’s leading providers of tyres and automotive services – had just invested £2.5m in a new head office and distribution centre in Antrim. But, like many companies hit by the crisis, Kerr’s quickly adapted and diversified, playing a vital role in keeping the province’s key workers on the road. “The Antrim site used up our cash reserves and had a big impact on our cash flow,” explains Managing Director Norman Kerr. “Unfortunately the coronavirus kicked in three months later, when we still didn’t have a chance to build up any cash reserves that we would normally for Rachel, so she’s changed shift patterns and split the team in half so there’s less contact between them. “We have a big kitchen so the space isn’t the issue. It’s more that we wanted to keep the team safe,” she says. Rachel’s passion for macarons is clear. “They’re so delicate and quite hard to make because there’s a lot that can go wrong.” And after a tough few months, she’s got her eye on a brighter future. “The business is now emerging from a global crisis,” she says, adding that she’d like to help younger people and create a training programme with a college. “They’ve been so much more affected, and it’s just something close to my heart. “All the graduate positions I applied to when I finished university told us that because of the impact of the financial crash, they’d never take on as many graduates.” Where you can find out more The UK Government has announced an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and support business across the UK during the coronavirus outbreak. There is a wide range of financial support available to firms of all sizes. Details can be found here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus/ business-support
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