Speaking at ART Business Loans’ first ever virtual AGM, on 25th September 2020, Chair Dr Nick Venning and Chief Executive Dr Steve Walker reported that ART remains in a strong position to face the year ahead. Whilst acknowledging the significant challenges posed by COVID-19, the tone was one of cautious optimism in relation to both ART and its borrowers.
Dr Nick Venning said: “The future is of course unknowable but, with our support, many borrowers are showing great resilience and I believe that most will come through these difficult times. Together, we will weather the storm.
“One thing that has always been clear is that the demand for small business loans in the West Midlands is strong and perennial. Economic growth will return, the demand for what we do will persist and our mission remains to meet that challenge.
“Thanks to particular support from Unity Trust Bank, we are confident that we will be able to meet current demand in the year ahead.”
Dr Steve Walker said: “Last year was an excellent year; in fact a record in terms of loan delivery and profitability before the COVID-19 pandemic overtook us. We lent £3.6m, bringing our total loan book close to £6.8m. Whilst our decision to make prudent provision for bad debt took us from profit to loss, that has only had a modest impact on our Balance Sheet, which remains strong.”
Commenting on current trading conditions, he added: “What we have seen over the past few months has been a trend for our existing clients to seek capital and interest holidays rather than new loans, which we granted, and then encouragingly many have sought to return to normal payments. We have also seen decreases in default levels. Although early days, and we believe that more difficult times lie ahead for some businesses, we have seen a lower level of actual bad debts than we anticipated at the half year point.”
Steve also took the opportunity to thank and congratulate the experienced ART staff team both for their achievements and for the way in which they had adapted to the challenges of a different way of working since 23rd March. “It has not been easy, because our business model relies upon relationships, which we usually build face to face,” he said. “Dealing remotely with our introducer base and our borrowers – even colleagues – has definitely had its challenges and I believe the little chats that are work related or socially related that can more easily occur face to face are missed by us all.”
Steve ended on a positive note, saying: “We have funds available to lend, including under the CBILS scheme while it lasts, and are very much open for business both to our own client base and new borrowers who have not been able to obtain their full needs from the banks. In the year ahead, we will adapt our loan offer according to the market and our stakeholders and we will continue to support our clients and work safely together to fulfil our mission.”
To find out more about business loans from ART, call us on 0121 359 2444.October 13, 2020 8:07 am