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Are you ready to reopen your sports shop?

Published on 18th May 2020 - Last update on 19th May 2020

The controversy about whether or not a sports shop is an ‘essential’ business has come and gone, but with the government roadmap for easing lockdown, it looks as though there could be some good news.

Sporting enthusiasts who want to make the most of lockdown to build fitness, along sports shop owners may finally have something to celebrate. But if you run a shop that has been closed as part of the lockdown, you will need to look at the costs of reopening.

Going back to work after the lockdown is not going to be like coming back after a long weekend. The world has moved on, and your shop has to move on with it.

“If you are a retailer you need to realise two things. One is that business could be very slow in your shop for months and that there could be some new costs to deal with even before you open the doors”

Stock

The lockdown came suddenly and may have left you with a well-filled stockroom which just needs a dust down to be ready for the shop floor.

Many people are likely to be in need of trainers, and the new enthusiasm for leisurewear could be a moneyspinner. Many people are swapping the office and career wear for working from home and sports clothing. The growing enthusiasm for a kick around in the garden could also mean sales of balls are due for an increase.

But many customers are watching their money more closely than ever so you may need to be very selective if you are bringing in fresh stock.

You should start by calling your wholesaler or other suppliers. The chances are that they will have some fresh stock in, but not in the quantities that you might expect at this time of year because Covid has brought many factories to a halt on the other side of the world. They may also be less willing than usual to offer credit. They are worried about retailers not being able to survive and may want cash upfront. 

You may find that you need to pay cash to bring in stock - at a time when cash is in short supply for everyone.

Health and safety

The extra health and safety measures required because of Covid will mean some changes will be needed in your shop. Changing rooms may need to be kept shut for the time being, and you will have to be very careful with returns.

But it is on your shop floor that you might need to be most careful. Shoppers like to browse, and they like to shop with friends, both of which could become a problem. You cannot allow so many potential customers into your shop that it becomes crowded they will need to observe the 2-metre rule. This might require restricting the number of people you allow in at any time and make queuing unavoidable. People are getting used to the idea of queues, but if you are in a mall or a high street, it can be a problem finding somewhere for your customers to line up.

You may also need to introduce perspex screens to keep customers and staff safely distanced near the till, while floor markings might be needed to provide circulation routes.

You might need to think about protective equipment, including non-medical grade face masks, for your employees. Hand sanitiser is starting to become available again, and you will need to provide a supply for your staff. It is good practice to use it after any customer contact. 

Rent

Rent and rates are two of the biggest costs for retailers. The government's rates holiday means that you will not need to give the usual sum to your local authority this year, but your landlord will still need to be paid.

However, because of the unprecedented situation and the impact it has had on the business community, some landlords may be open to negotiation. Despite your shop being closed, you will probably have had to pay rent in full, draining what cash reserves you have. They are better off with a tenant who is paying a reduced rent for a few months than one who has gone out of business and will not be paying them anything at all. Most commercial landlords will be fully aware of the problems they will face with getting a replacement tenant to take over your premises, and could therefore be accomodating. 

Dealing with the costs

Stock and health and safety - and publicity to tell people you are open for business - will all mean additional costs, at a time when takings are unpredictable, but likely to be very much smaller than the usual for the time of year. 

At Rangewell we can help you find the answers – and the cash you need – for your reopening plans.

Short-term funding while you reopen

With some extra costs to cover, and probably drastically reduced footfall, you may need help with your cash flow.

There are many types of funding that you may be able to consider. CBILS and other government funding schemes may be available, but it is becoming clear that many mean delays and high costs, and can be simply too difficult to apply for and slow to be arranged to answer your immediate needs if you are looking at reopening. 

Fortunately, there are many other ways to provide short-term funding.

Working Capital Loans

Working Capital Loans can be used to cover everyday operating expenses, such as your accounts payable and payroll, when cashflow is slow. They are simple, short-term loans designed to provide a cash lump sum very quickly - in a matter of days with some lenders - and intended to be paid back in a matter of months. A short-term unsecured loan can often be arranged in a working week.

Merchant Cash Advance

Another alternative may be a Merchant Cash Advance. It is particularly appropriate as it is based on customers using cards to pay for their purchases - rapidly becoming the most popular payment method with concerns about the possibility of infection from cash.

Merchant Cash Advance, or Business Cash Advance (MCA/BCA), can provide cash advances using your credit card takings as security. This is then paid back as your customers make card payments, with a proportion of every payment you take diverted to the lender. With many conventional lenders still reluctant to lend to the retail sector, it can provide a simple way for businesses, to raise the funds they need during the aftermath of the crisis

The sum that can be advanced will typically be equivalent to your monthly takings during more usual trading conditions. The lender will work with your payment processing company, who gives them access to your recent transactions, and they will provide a deal that takes into account the volume of business that you have done during normal business conditions. 

Then every time you have a customer who pays with a card or their phone - which is how most people who are shopping will be paying - a proportion of their spend goes to pay off your advance. There is no need for you to budget for repayments of any kind. 

An MCA or BCA can bring you the funds you need fast, often in just days. Then it makes repayment automatically, with a set percentage of every credit card payment you take going straight to the lender.

Finding the right support to help your business survive the crisis isn't always straightforward. We're on your side and ready to show you all of your options, including government and debt solutions. Contact us now.

Overdraft Replacement

An overdraft used to be an everyday business finance facility provided by your bank. Your overdraft level would be agreed as part of your business banking arrangements.

It would let you withdraw cash that you didn’t have as you needed it as a short-term loan. You could use it for a few days or a few weeks, as a buffer against cashflow slowdowns, or to deal with larger expenses. Your bank would only charge you for the cash you withdrew, and for the time you used it, making it cost-effective for all types of small costs, from dealing with bills to bringing in stock.

But when the credit crunch hit, the banks reduced or removed the overdrafts they extended to small businesses. Revolving Credit, also known as Overdraft Replacement or Alternative Overdraft Funding, has grown up to fill the gap.

Alternative Overdrafts are provided by a number of lenders, and offer instant access to funds, just like an overdraft, although no bank account is involved. Instead, the Alternative Overdraft provides a line of credit with a limit agreed when you apply. This limit is usually based on your past income.

The facility will only mean a charge when you actually use the facility, based on the amount you draw down, and the time which you hold it. You can repay at any time, and the funds will be ready for use again.

This can be a useful additional source of funding if you need access to small cash sums for short periods, for purposes such as buying in fresh supplies or bringing in PPE.

Both secured and unsecured arrangements can be provided, with those arrangements secured on assets usually offering more attractive rates.

Refinancing

You might also be able to improve your cashflow without borrowing more - by taking a fresh look at loans you already have.

The chances are that you already have a wide range of loans and funding agreements in place. Refinancing - replacing these agreements with loans that offer lower rates or longer terms - could substantially cut your outgoings.

At Rangewell we can help you find lenders with the kind of rates you need and help you secure the funding deals you want from them.

You may also be able to use refinancing to bring you cash. 

The equipment that your shop already uses - displays, lighting, a vehicle - all represent a considerable investment. Asset Refinance lets you re-use that investment, while still having full use of your assets. 

The finance company will buy the asset from you, providing you with a cash sum. You then buy the asset back, with a new finance arrangement.

You may even be able to refinance your property. By remortgaging your business premises can receive a cash lump sum comparable to its market value to use as you wish. So your shop could be used to raise funds - you simply make monthly mortgage repayments until the property becomes yours again - and it is usually not necessary to have paid off the initial purchase of a property to be able to use it to raise funds in this way. 

Getting the help you need to reopen your sports shop

Getting the right type of funding for your sports business, and getting it quickly, can be vital for its survival. But you must be certain that the rates and terms are fair and affordable as your business starts to pick up again.

At Rangewell, we know the lending products that are available, and which can be the most cost-effective for your needs. Rates will vary between providers and will also depend on the level of funding agreed.

We also know the most competitive lenders and those who will work with the retail sector.

Of course, some lenders have, themselves, shut down with the coronavirus crisis. We know those that have not, and who can be in the best position to provide you with short-term cash as quickly as possible.

At Rangewell, we are acknowledged experts in all types of business finance. We can help you find the funding that's best for you and your business whether you're looking for help with a government scheme, looking at new lending - or in need of fresh ways to cut the costs of lending you already have arranged. As businesses start to come out to the crisis, we can provide the financial lifelines you need.


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