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£1 million funding boost for Caerphilly lens manufacturer

Lenstec Optical Group

One of the UK’s biggest spectacle lens manufacturers has been supported by a £1m CBILS loan from NatWest ensuring it as able to continue supporting NHS opticians during lockdown.

Lenstec Optical Group, which is headquartered in Caerphilly and has facilities in Leeds and Hertfordshire, manufactures over 4,500 pairs of glasses every day. More than half of its 200 strong workforce are based at its centre in Bedwas in Caerphilly.

The company supports around 2,000 opticians throughout the UK from major retailers through to independent high street stores. Opticians are recognised as key workers during the pandemic, triaging patients with eye complaints to reduce pressure on accident and emergency departments.

Gez Donovan

However, when lockdown began the company’s finance director Gez Donovan admitted it was like: “being on a train and the track suddenly being removed from beneath you.”

He said the business had to mobilise quickly to be able to continue providing its services and that it felt a great responsibility to do so even though there would be a cost impact to the business.

Gez said: “We know how many people rely upon our services so it was never a consideration to shut-up shop during lockdown, even though financially that would have made more sense. We certainly felt a moral obligation to put our customers and supply chain first.

“We had to furlough about 85% of our staff, whilst maintaining enough people at our sites to manufacture our products. Working capital was therefore vitally important as our cash flow was temporarily impacted.

“The support NatWest provided and speed at which they worked allowed us to mobilise quickly and access the capital we needed to continue moving forward as a business. We are now preparing for when lockdown ends and again, NatWest’s support has been there for us to turn to during this period.”

Rhys Williams, NatWest Relationship Director, said: “Lenstec Optical Group is a company with a fantastic heritage and an adaptive business model that with NatWest’s support has allowed it to adjust quickly under the current climate to continue supporting its valued customers.

“Our priority during lockdown has been to work closely with the businesses we support and ensure they have the help and finance they need. In doing so these businesses can focus on being in the strongest position possible for when lockdown ends and capitalising on new opportunities. Our purpose is to be there for our customers and always will be.”