Travel agent with branches across North Staffordshire secures £1.2m loan to help it recover from coronavirus


A travel company which has branches across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire has landed a £1.2 million coronavirus loan to help it survive the impact of the pandemic.

Polka Dot Travel – which has shops in Hanley, Longton, Newcastle, Leek, Stafford and Nantwich –  secured the Coronavirus Busines Interruption Loan (CBILS) from banking-giant Barclays.

The loan – which aims to help businesses which have been negatively impacted by Covid-19 – will be used by Polka Dot Travel to improve its cash-flow during a challenging time for the industry and as holidays continue to be banned under Government lockdown regulations.

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Polka Dot Travel was founded in 2013 by Philippa Wilcox and Helen Johnson.

The independent travel agent furloughed 75 of its 100 staff following the lockdown announcement in March which saw the travel industry brought to a halt.

Mark Johnson, managing director at Polka Dot Travel, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been the toughest and most difficult challenge that I have ever faced in business. However, the support we have received has made it far more manageable and has been invaluable.”

Polka Dot Travel in Newcastle

Stuart Dutton, head of high growth at Manchester-based accountancy firm Sedulo which managed the loan application, said: “I have been working with Polka Dot Travel as a non-executive finance director for the last 18 months and it has been great to see the proactive development undertaken pursuing growth in that time.

“The travel sector has been massively impacted, but Helen, Philippa and Mark quickly responded to mitigate the consequences to ensure that customer service was maintained whilst enhancing their digital offering for ongoing growth. They will come out of this with confidence for the future.”

Mark added: “Stuart and the wider team have offered support daily, helping with finance and funding issues and keeping us up-to-date with all the Government schemes.

“They have taken care of everything from the Job Retention Scheme to our CBILS loan application. Sedulo has made this daunting period easier to handle and have kept me positive all the way through.”





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