How bridging finance could help save the high street


The fallout from 2020 is yet to be seen in full in terms of the economic impact, but it has been clear for some months now that the hospitality and retail sectors are amongst the hardest hit.

As you would expect from a business that relies on getting people through the door, they are most vulnerable during extended periods of lockdown and restrictions.

The Government has said it is committed to doing all it can to shore up these sectors of the economy, but even they admit they cannot save every job at risk.

There is light on the horizon with the vaccine approval and rollout, but it can’t come quickly enough for the restaurant and pub trades, which bring people into our town and city centres and breathe life into our high streets.

So, with high street lenders unable to provide the support that’s needed in the timescales it’s required, there is an opportunity for bridging finance to offer a lifeline to those in need.

We have already seen a significant increase in the number of enquiries from hotel owners and similar businesses looking for short-term finance to get back on their feet. Of course, the challenge is managing the exit route if there is no prospect of income being generated in the short to medium term.

But thanks to the vaccine rollout, confidence is growing that by the end of the first half of 2021 things will be back to normal. Or at least a new normal. So if your exit plan is based on a two year loan term, there’s good reason to believe your business will be back on its feet within that time.

Let’s face it, given how long most of us have had to stay away from our favourite pubs and restaurants there is going to be a lot of pent-up demand to get back in there come the summer, scotch eggs or not.

The other big change for our town centres is going to be the amount of retail units and commercial space that is coming on the market, as the trend for working from home is likely to continue.

Businesses simply won’t need or want to pay for large empty offices if the majority of staff are working remotely or from small co-working hubs closer to their homes.

That is going to open up some great opportunities for investors and developers looking to convert residential spaces in central locations. This has the dual benefits of addressing the ongoing housing shortage and making profitable use of space on the high street that may otherwise become derelict.

Of course when it comes to coronavirus we’re not out of the woods yebrit, but the market moving into 2021 is buoyant with a lot to be positive about in terms of new opportunities and investment.

The key, more than ever, is going to be flexibility and being able to work closely with brokers and master brokers with a lender which can move quickly on the opportunity. But also, to agree the exit route, so the whole process is managed from the same central point.

At West One we have always been quick to adapt to change, whether that’s political uncertainty over Brexit, or the coronavirus crisis. We’re able to take a negative situation and find a positive way forward, which ensures we keep lending and our brokers and clients get their deals over the line.

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