Most sectors felt a significant impact from the Covid-19 crisis – but none more so than the hospitality industry. For companies in the pub, hotel and restaurant supply chains, the impact was immediate and potentially devastating. Riva Foods, a Hull-based family business specialising in garlic spreads, garlic bread and flavoured butter portions, saw orders reduce significantly overnight as the lockdown came into force. Prior to the pandemic, the business was turning over nearly £9m – but with 70% of its customers in hospitality, the impact on revenue was immediate.
“The lockdown obviously closed down all of our hospitality clients, so the impact was immediate and quite severe,” says Paul Lempriere, Chief Executive at Riva. “Our first concern was our own staff, but we’re also part of a supply chain, so we knew exactly how tough it was for both suppliers and customers, too.”
As in so many companies affected by the pandemic, the management team knew their mission was to navigate this unprecedented period and come out on the other side successfully. Their business is fundamentally sound and profitable, but securing the cash to maintain operations while sales were interrupted was a challenge. Even with the strong financial foundations that the management team had built up over many years, there was a case for additional support.
ABN AMRO Commercial Finance has been working with Riva Foods for 22 years. That not only meant we knew the owners and management well – relationships that are invaluable at times of crisis – but because of the type of lending we’re engaged in, we also knew the business inside-out.
We’ve helped with their ongoing investments in recent years to improve capacity, storage and loading facilities – so we’ve been a real financial wingman to the team, opening up space for them to succeed. And we knew exactly what kind of positive trajectory Riva was on before Covid-19 struck.
We also know that the business prides itself on making quick and responsive decisions for its own customers – and it was evident they were equally keen to take decisive action to see themselves through the pandemic.
“As the medium-term picture for the lockdown became clearer, we know we weren’t just going to go back to how things were – at least not for a while,” says Paul. “But you can’t just freeze in a situation like this. People still want good eating experiences, there will still be hospitality. Working out how to innovate in the face of this kind of challenge is what we’re all about.”
A big part of that is getting cash into the business faster – and a £1.5m confidential invoice discounting package does precisely that, ensuring that as soon as new orders start to arrive, Riva can deploy the cash to start growing again and keep the production lines rolling.
That’s been ideal as lockdowns have eased and orders mount up again. But the scale of the disruption this year has been so great that additional capital has been a must. So we worked with Riva to arrange £400,000 of new lending under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), too.
Under the CBILS, the government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months on the loan. That’s given us the firepower to fund great businesses like Riva – and given them the support and space they needed on their journey back to normality. It’s been a fantastic additional tool to support a relationship that goes back a generation.
Great businesses like Riva deserve maximum support to get through an external and temporary impact like the pandemic – support that ABN AMRO Commercial Finance has been able to offer to this longstanding client.
“We’ve worked with ABN AMRO for a long time, we knew they would look beyond the immediate challenges for this sector,” says Paul. “When things are uncertain and you’re adapting, knowing that you’ve got some financial breathing space is a must. It means we can focus on meeting evolving customer needs, not watching out backs. That’s a huge plus.”
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