Bicester: Distributor finds way forward with Barclays

An Oxfordshire-based sales and distributor for a number of major global brands has accessed £3 million from Barclays, utilising the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme (CLBILS), helping the firm to navigate through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.Established in 1917, EP Barrus, a British company headquartered at Glen Way, Launton Road, Bicester, is the sole UK distributor for a wide range of products predominantly with an engineering focus.

These include products from Brunswick (Marine Power), one of the largest suppliers of marine engines and drives, with brands such as Mariner and Mercury outboard engines; MTD Products Inc, the largest supplier worldwide of ride-on tractors and lawnmowers to the domestic market, and John Deere and Yanmar industrial and marine engines. More familiar household brands include Town and Country, Wolf and Wilkinson Sword Garden Tools.

As a supplier to 3,500-plus dealerships – the majority of whom had to close due to lockdown – the firm was forced to furlough a substantial proportion of its 195 staff, while a skeleton workforce continued to provide essential supplies under its keyworker status to the MoD, RNLI, Police, Fire and other emergency services, as well as agriculture and the fisheries market.

The CLBILS funding will be used initially to cover the fixed costs remaining in the business over the shutdown period and allow sufficient working capital for the firm to get back to normal trading levels as lockdown measures ease.

Robert Muir, managing director at EP Barrus, said: “The support of Barclays in arranging the CLBILS funding, has enabled us to successfully navigate our business through this pandemic, ensured that we could pay all of our suppliers on time, and given us the flexibility and opportunity to focus all our efforts on how best to support our customers as business returns to the new normal.”

Andrew Davies, relationship director at Barclays, Oxford, added: “The pandemic has forced lots of businesses to temporarily suspend or limit their operations. The CLBILS loan will give the company enough fuel to get through in this uncertain time and be ready to bounce back when demand returns. They have weathered economic crises before in their 100-year history and I’m sure will draw on the strength of the company to do so once again.”