SME and Business

Luxury Thames Yachts safely navigating through Covid 19 with bank support

A London cruise venue, which entertains celebrities, dignitaries and royalty, has unveiled its new home as it resumes operations.

Woods' Silver Fleet, a family run firm, marked its reopening on 14th of August, launching from Woods Quay, its renamed home on the Victoria Embankment. In another boost to business, it has also announced that it has been awarded a licence to host wedding ceremonies.

Tom Woods, Managing Director of Woods Silver Fleet, said: “We are emerging from lockdown in a very strong position. Woods Quay has been 20 years in the planning, so we are delighted that we were able to complete this project while we have been closed for events. It’s also fantastic news to receive a wedding licence, which is extremely rare for a water-based business in Central London.”

Woods' Silver Fleet secured funding from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) through Clydesdale Bank, owned by Virgin Money UK, to cover its operational costs for 2020. CBILS is a UK government initiative facilitated by participating banks to provide financial support to SMEs that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Under the scheme, existing Yorkshire Bank business customers can borrow £10,000 to £5 million.

The business started on the River Thames, in 1947, with one small tourist boat. More than 70 years later, its fleet of luxury yachts operate from the privately-owned Woods Quay, Victoria Embankment, creating unique event experiences for its wide range of customers, focusing on the family’s love of boats, food and service. It employs 30 people, including crew, an in-house event team and chefs, which can be increased to 120 depending on the events planned.

Tom, who is a fifth generation Waterman, believes despite challenging times, he is positive about the future.

He said: “In the middle of February we started to realise that Coronavirus was going to have an impact, so I called our relationship manager at Clydesdale Bank, Richard Messenger, and without missing a beat he said he was able to support us, and we started the process.

“We have been a customer for 43 years and we have a strong relationship with the bank. Along with the UK Government, I feel really well supported through this crisis and will come out the other side.

“We have an inherent trust with our clients when it comes to the service we can offer. Together, our clients and our dedicated event planner will make the appropriate choices to balance safety with a unique hospitality experience. And Covid-19 security measures have been smoothly implemented within our usual high-level cleaning and maintenance schedules.”

Richard Messenger, Commercial Relationship Manager at Clydesdale Bank, said: “The hospitality sector has really been hit hard during this crisis.

“Tom and I had a chat when it became apparent that the business would need to shut down and devised a strategy of support to not only see the business through the pandemic but give it the flexibility to thrive once we are out the other side of the current situation.

“We have been its banking partner for over 40 years – this business has seen and survived a number of challenges and it’s back in operation with two big announcements in its first week, which is extremely encouraging.”

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