Travel company secures £1.2m loan to help protect it from impact of coronavirus

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A travel agent with branches across North Staffordshire has secured a £1.2 million loan to help protect it from the impact of coronavirus.

Polka Dot Travel – which has shops in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stafford, the Staffordshire Moolands, South Cheshire and North Wales – has secured the cash from banking-giant Barclays through the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) which was launched to support businesses which have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

The loan will go towards helping Polka Dot Travel to improve its cash-flow during a particularly challenging time for the travel industry – with no sign of when holidays will be up-and-running again.

Mark Johnson, managing director at Polka Dot Travel, said: “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 has made it far more manageable and has been invaluable.”

Polka Dot Travel was founded in 2013 by Philippa Wilcox and Helen Johnson.

The business was forced to furlough 75 per cent of its 100-strong workforce following the Government’s lockdown announcement in March; after travel restrictions resulted in thousands of holidays being cancelled and the forced closure of branches meant holiday-makers were banned from visiting the high street.

Manchester-based accountancy firm Sedulo managed the loan application for Polka Dot Travel.

Stuart Dutton, head of high growth at Sedulo said: “I have been working with Polka Dot Travel as a non-executive finance director for the last 18 months and it has been great to see the proactive development undertaken pursuing growth in that time.

“The travel sector has been massively impacted, but Helen, Philippa and Mark quickly responded to mitigate the consequences to ensure that customer service was maintained whilst enhancing their digital offering for ongoing growth. They will come out of this with confidence for the future.”

Mark added: “Stuart and the wider team have offered support daily, 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 has made this daunting period easier to handle and have kept me positive all the way through.”

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