A photographic agency whose order book emptied in a flash after the coronavirus outbreak says it expects to benefit from a boom in new business once lockdown is over, thanks to support from Lloyds Bank.
United National Photographers (UNP) was founded in 1997 by picture editor and managing director Hamlet Mejloumian, and is now the UK’s largest independent provider of press and PR photography, with four head office staff and 57 freelance photographers based across the UK.
Its customers were forced to cancel hundreds of jobs because of the coronavirus lockdown and the agency’s busy diary was suddenly empty.
Hamlet said: “After what happened in northern Italy and Spain, we knew what was coming to our shores, so we closed our offices before the Government announced the lockdown.
“We had to make sure that our small team of colleagues was safe and working from their homes. Soon after that followed the mass cancellation of photo shoots we’d had booked in.”
The impact on income was immediate, but now Lloyds Bank has provided UNP with a £65,000 loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
Hamlet said: “The CBILS funding means that we can keep the business infrastructure in place and our staff and freelancer photographers can be reassured that their wages will be paid and invoices will be settled.
“Lloyds Bank has been there for us every time we needed their help and I felt totally cared with warmth and wisdom. At every stage the advice was professional and filled with knowledge.
“We are eager to get back to work and two of our major customers have already been in touch, asking us if we have the resources and ability to supply far more photographers than we used to before the outbreak, as they will need to run massive press and PR campaigns when they get back to ‘business as usual’.”
Leeds-based UNP has more than 270 clients, including major corporate clients like Amazon, Ikea, Airbus, General Motors, the Co-op, Aldi, Morrisons and various Government departments.
Sara Burnside, business banking manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “Our support through the CBILS scheme will enable the agency to continue to meet its rental commitments, pay its utilities and continue to pay its staff during this difficult time.
“UNP is a successful business with a fantastic reputation and I’m sure that it will bounce back stronger than ever after lockdown ends.
“Lloyds Bank is working closely with business customers right across the UK to guide them through this unprecedented challenge and help them access the support that’s available, including through CBLIS.”