Barclays has approved a £2m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan to The Aspinall Foundation, which includes the popular UK wildlife parks of Howletts and Port Lympne.
Both parks have 1,300 animals in total, with Howletts Animal Park home to over 400 of the world’s rarest and endangered species.
The mission of The Aspinall Foundation is to halt the extinction of rare and endangered species and return them to the wild where possible. Working closely with the two award winning animal parks it licenses, The Aspinall Foundation fund and manage animal protection projects in Congo, Gabon, Java and Madagascar, as well as providing financial support to other animal protection schemes around the world including India and Cambodia.
Port Lympne reserve is set on 600 acres of countryside, with a wildlife park and a collection of lodgings including a historic hotel. Revenue is generated through visitor income and secondary spend at the parks, but the main growth part of the business is accommodation. Port Lympne has 81 units in total with 13 different types of accommodation, allowing guests to stay at locations such as ‘Lion Lodge’ and the recently purchased 15th Century ‘Giraffe Hall’. They have bars and restaurants at both sites that have closed due to COVID-19, and are currently missing out on their peak business season which lasts from Easter until October half-term.
When the business began forward planning as the coronavirus pandemic emerged, the first thing it turned to was the CBIL scheme. The foundation’s Barclays Relationship Director was aware of their businesses growth ambitions for 2020 so was keen to help, and secured the CBIL credit approval within 3 weeks, with the loan being drawn down in three to four days. Without the funds coming in through its most profitable season, cash would have run out by the end of April, however the CBIL will now be able to aid cashflow until the end of July and ensure that the parks’ animals are fed and watered through these uncertain times. The CBIL will also help the business continue on its upward trajectory from the beginning of 2020, setting both of the animal parks up for a good year in 2021.
Tony Kelly, Managing Director of The Aspinall Foundation, said: “Protecting endangered animals is at the core of The Aspinall Foundation, and we were determined not to let the COVID-19 pandemic get in the way of our mission. When cash flow ground to a halt in the most profitable season for our animal parks, we approached our relationship director for help, who was communicative and kept us well informed, most importantly delivering what we needed in the timescale promised.
“The £2 million CBIL loan provided by Barclays will help make sure that the 1300 animals across both our sites still get fed and watered, and ensures that we can carry on paying our hard working animal keepers. Our main priority right now is making sure our precious animals get the care they need, and that the foundation can carry on repatriating them to the wild when this is all over.”
Mike Saul, Head of Hospitality and Leisure for Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “Barclays is absolutely committed to supporting all businesses through such unprecedented times and we understand the challenges they are facing. We are working closely with clients to provide the vital funding they need and we look forward to the park re-opening its doors and helping Tony and the foundation continue on their upward trajectory from the start of the year.”