A London stationery business that has been supplying firms across the capital for 25 years has secured a major new contract after diversifying into office fit-outs with support from Lloyds Bank.

Harrow-based Cara Stationery launched its office fit-out arm, Cara Furniture Services, in 2018. The firm has been appointed to supply and install the furniture for the newly-created Maple Cross office of Align, a joint venture between three leading construction companies delivering the Central 1 portion of HS2, which is set to hold around 500 staff working on the major transport project.

An invoice finance facility from Lloyds Bank provided the £5m turnover business with the working capital to continue with projects and pay suppliers while waiting for its own invoices to be paid.

The majority of the firm’s clients are in the construction sector, and it has seen an increase in enquiries, particularly for personal protective equipment (PPE), including Perspex screen desk dividers. Indeed, much of Cara Furniture’s workload during the summer months of 2020 involved helping Align to ensure that its sites were restructured to guarantee the maximum level of safety for those returning to the office.

Cara Furniture Services Director Gerry Keany believes the timely pivoting of the business at the start of 2020 and Lloyds Bank’s ongoing support stand it in good stead for the coming months despite the latest lockdown measures.

He said: “2020 was a year of ebbs and flows, and we certainly sold more hand sanitiser than staplers, but Lloyds Bank’s support was instrumental in our being able to weather the storm and secure a landmark contract win for the new arm of the business. Over the years, our Lloyds Bank relationship manager has really taken the time to get to know our business, and that comes across in every interaction we have about the present challenges and our plans for the future.”

Cara Stationery has been a customer of Lloyds Bank for 15 years. To help the business navigate the disruption of the pandemic, and to cover fixed costs, Lloyds Bank also provided Cara Stationery with a £225,000 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loan.

Brendon Shanahan, relationship director at Lloyds Bank, added: “Gerry and the team at Cara Stationery saw an opportunity to expand their offering to increase revenue, and that foresight is already paying dividends. We will continue to be by their side to help them emerge from the pandemic is as strong a position as possible, and the same goes for firms right across London.”

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