Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese
Enterprise Answers (Cumbria)
Region: North West
Programme: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
As soon as the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented, Preston cheesemaker Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese lost most of its business. With wholesalers returning stock and sales dwindling, the company turned to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for finance that would allow it to find new routes to sell its product.
Read what it had to say in this CBILS case study.
British Business Bank: Can you tell us what your company does?
Graham Kirkham, director of Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese: The Kirkham family has resided at Beesley Farm, on the outskirts of Goosnargh village, for just over 70 years. My mother Ruth Kirkham (aka Mrs Kirkham) made the first cheese on the farm in 1978, and production continues there to this day. Ruth and I run the business, with the help of other family members and a handful of great staff.
The coronavirus has affected a huge number of businesses across the UK. What problems were you facing as a result of the outbreak and what made you apply for CBILS support?
After the lockdown, we lost 75% of our business overnight. Wholesalers were returning stock and our storeroom was filling up. We weren’t selling any cheese but, as a working farm, our outgoings remained the same. It was a massive worry.
We considered stopping the cheesemaking and furloughing our staff but no-one wanted to buy the milk either. One week we only sold nine cheeses, yet we needed to sell 130 to break even. We had to find new routes to sell our product.
Once our loan was approved, the relief was immense. Without it, it’s highly likely we wouldn’t have been able to continue and our three-generation family business would’ve ceased to exist, through no fault of our own.
Graham Kirkham, director of Mrs Kirkham‘s Lancashire Cheese
How long did the application process take? Did you need any support?
The application process was relatively quick. We needed the help of our accountant to complete the application and provide all the financial information the lender required to assess our loan request.
What advice would you give to other businesses that are applying for a CBILS loan?
If your business needs finance, the current government loan schemes are a good consideration as they come with flexibility. They give a business the opportunity to stabilise its current position, ready itself to recover and then to trade and hopefully get back to the turnover it was experiencing before lockdown.
How has the CBILS loan helped your business to weather the outbreak? And what might have happened if you hadn’t received it?
Once I found out our loan had been approved, the relief was immense. The funding, combined with the help and publicity we received, has really helped us to get through the past few weeks. We were able to join a box scheme run by Neal’s Yard in collaboration with Jamie Oliver that allowed cheese producers like us to supply customers directly.
Without the money, it’s highly likely we wouldn’t have been able to continue and our three-generation family business would’ve ceased to exist, through no fault of our own.