Merson Group, the Place Branding and Digital Signage specialist headquartered in Glasgow with operations in London and Poland, has completed a refinancing deal through the specialist lender Leumi ABL, part of the Bank Leumi Group. The facilities combine a working capital Invoice Financing arrangement together with Property Term Funding that are part supported by a UK Government-backed CBILS loan. The business retains HSBC as their clearing bank and continues its relationship with their Scottish-based venture funder Scottish Loan Fund which is administered by Maven Capital Partners.
The company has navigated the reduced trading levels through the Covid lockdown period by carefully managing the risks involved and implementing new Method Statements for a Covid-19 safe working environment. Now experiencing a healthy pick-up in activity, bolstered by strong client connections in the Grocery sector, the deal marks a significant step forward and puts the business on a solid footing.
CEO Roddy Angus said, ‘It's an understatement to say that this has been an extremely challenging time for us, as it has for most businesses. We had up to 50% of our UK staff on furlough at one point but thankfully the vast majority are now back working fulltime. The refinancing really puts us in a good place to maximise the opportunity in our client sectors that are performing well – the deal highlights the strength of our relationship with Leumi ABL and enables us to maximise the efficiency of our asset funding structure while at the same time strengthening the balance sheet of the company.'
Gavin McMurray CCSO said, ‘We have had to keep really close to our clients to understand their post Covid strategies and plans. We didn’t see it before but now it’s obvious - it’s a good time to be operating in the Grocery Retail market as this sector has sustained income levels through the pandemic and clients are now preparing their businesses for the long term adjustment to shopping preferences that have been accelerated by Covid. This is where we are seeing the swiftest return to plan, but I have to say that there are improving activity levels in almost every sector we are in. It is unbelievable that through the UK lockdown our Polish manufacturing facility continued to operate, and a notable achievement was the manufacture of dealership signs for four new Aston Martin sites in the four corners of the globe – a truly global achievement. What makes it more amazing is that one of the key materials was a significant quantity of Italian Travertine, which our supplier in northern Italy managed to quarry, process and deliver despite their difficulties.’
The group's Technology business, their newly formed joint venture Merson Digital, has also operated through lockdown and continues to install digital signage at sites, some requiring additional post Covid-19 solutions. They are currently working on Digital Signage and Content Management Systems for British Land, Crown Estates and, of notable interest, is the project to sign boohoo’s new flagship store in Oxford Street. Activity is forecast to continue with many more projects ahead, some with instore omnichannel solutions and data driven designs.
Robert Murray CDO said, ‘We have used this period to accelerate digital transformation in every aspect of our business, with a simple focus on adopting or developing tools that create more effective ways of working with our clients and collaborators. Some advances have been evolution, but there are areas where we are really pushing the boundaries - particularly in our design approach, systems, service and presentation capabilities. I am excited to continue this design and technology drive with my team who are inspired to go Beyond Traditional.’
Roddy Angus concluded, ‘I don’t know how everyone in our business has coped; this has not been an easy period to transition and there is still great uncertainty about the Covid-19 situation. I have been warmed by the individual effort – adjusting to home working, distancing in the factory, getting out to sites again and those experiencing furlough. There has been great co-operation and teamwork in getting the business back up to speed and everyone has borne the pain and uncertainty with good humour and enthusiasm. Our company values of ‘Mojo’, ‘Job Done’ and ‘Family’ have been well tested and have sustained the team and guided us through this period. We are all conscious that we are not out of the woods yet but the positive news that the company is well financed goes a long way towards putting minds at rest. We have had colleagues suffer from the virus and while everyone in the business has recovered there are friends and relations who have sadly passed on, our thoughts are with those affected.’