by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Bank of Ireland UK has revealed it has supported more than 6,700 local business funding requests since the middle of March and approvals continue to grow daily. The bank is providing financial support to businesses of all sizes and across all sectors throughout Northern Ireland that have challenged revenue streams and are seeing their cashflow disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Provision is being made through a combination of its own dedicated business support measures and UK Government backed schemes.

Bank of Ireland UK’s own support includes providing emergency working capital, foreign currency & treasury products to support sourcing products from new suppliers internationally and payment flexibility on loan facilities.

As an accredited lender for the UK Government Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) for small business loans up to £50,000 and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme Schemes (CBILS) which allows companies to borrow up to £5m, the bank has prioritised these funding requests. With over 75% of applications relating to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme it reflects the very high demand in the market from small local business at this crucial time.

Gavin Kennedy, Head of Business Banking (NI), Bank of Ireland UK said: “As businesses face the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bank of Ireland UK is playing a critical role in supporting our local business customers and more broadly, the local economy through this crisis.

“We have been ensuring our business teams, including those closest to customers, our Relationship Managers and Business Advisors, have been able to provide essential support with the appropriate range of facilities and UK Government backed schemes to assist and guide businesses through this period of uncertainty.”

One business which has successfully secured a loan from Bank of Ireland UK via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is Newtownards based independent Toy retailer SMF Ltd who trade as Toytown.

Toytown is a family run business which marked forty years in business in 2019. It is one of the largest independent toy retailers in the UK and Ireland with 200 staff working across their 29 stores, including seven outlets in Northern Ireland. An eighth store is scheduled to open in Lisnagelvin, Derry/Londonderry in August.

The business secured a £1.5million loan to support cashflow while its stores were closed so that suppliers could be paid promptly and to ensure the business was ready for future trading once lockdown is eased and the shops can re-open.

The owner and Managing Director of Toytown, Alan Simpson says: “Toytown is a very successful and well run business and Bank of Ireland UK has been with us from the very start and has seen us grow from strength to strength.

“When our stores were closed overnight due to coronavirus, its impact on cashflow was immediate. We made a request to the bank for support and they were very quick to respond and ensure we had all we needed to help us navigate the challenges of Covid-19 so we can come out as a strong business the other side and we will.

“We still have our busiest trading period ahead of us from October through to Christmas and that’s why it’s crucial we are supported and ready to meet our customers’ needs when we can and I’m delighted the bank can help us in that endeavour.”

Gavin Kennedy, Head of Business Banking (NI), Bank of Ireland UK concludes: “I am delighted we have been able to continue to support Toytown in this most difficult and challenging period and especially great to see them prepare to safely reopen stores as and when they can. As with many of our customers they are eager to get back to what they are all about, welcoming and serving the needs of customers’ again.”

Bank of Ireland UK business customers can find out more about the bank’s support through the coronavirus at

Business Eye logo

Pictured at Toytown in Newtownards are (clockwise from left) Paul McClurg, Head of Belfast Business Banking, Bank of Ireland UK, Gavin Kennedy, Head of Business Banking (NI), Bank of Ireland UK, and Alan Simpson, owner and Managing Director of Toytown.


Advertise in Business Eye

Receive Monthly Magazine

Choose Printed or Online Edition

Subscribe to Business Eye Magazine Subscribe Today