A South Tyneside nursery group has been able to safeguard more than 100 jobs and secure its future after receiving a new loan from Lloyds Bank.

South Shields-based Early Learning Partnership operates five nurseries across the town, with 650 children enrolled on either private or government-backed plans.

The business was forced to close its doors in March following the Government’s shutdown of schools and nurseries, and subsequently had to furlough all but a handful of staff needed to continue communications with parents and carers.

With the group experiencing a significant fall in revenue and facing cashflow issues, managing director Eammon Gribben turned to long-time banking partner, Lloyds Bank, for support and was able to secure a £200,000-loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The funding meant he could pay 40% of the wages for his team of 110 – topping up the furlough grant so each person could continue to take home 80% of their salary – as well as covering other business costs.

Eamonn Gribben, managing director at Early Learning Partnership, said: “When the lockdown was announced, we immediately turned to Lloyds Bank for support and, together, we drew up plans that would help secure our business’ future.

“This new funding has helped to ease the strain on our cashflow.

“It’s also given us the confidence to look ahead to a time when we’ll be able to reopen safely. We’re really looking forward to the day when we can welcome the children back.”

Danielle Fraser, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “COVID-19 has forced many businesses to make extremely tough decisions at a time of unprecedented challenge.

“We’re doing everything we can to support businesses affected the pandemic, helping them to ride out the storm so they can continue their growth journey once some degree of normality returns.”