Lisburn-based conveyor belt manufacturer Smiley Monroe has resumed production at a reduced capacity and is preparing to bring more of its production staff back to work following a temporary closure due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Smiley Monroe is a leading global producer of endless conveyor belts and cut rubber and plastic parts for the materials processing equipment sector, which provides essential equipment to the quarrying, mining, construction and waste industries.
The company has availed of a significant loan through the UK government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), facilitated by Danske Bank, to enable it to trade through the current period of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
Chris Monroe, Global Sales Director at Smiley Monroe, said: “It’s good to be back and we are conservatively optimistic after being open again for only a few weeks. Although demand isn’t back to 100%, the forecast is improving, but it’s still challenging times ahead for all businesses in our sector, just like it is for so many others.
“The health and wellbeing of our team is our first priority and in order to keep our workplace and returning employees safe from the virus, we have implemented comprehensive safety measures in line with Government guidance.”
In October last year the company expanded into the US by opening a manufacturing facility in Franklin, Kentucky, which has now started production in line with state and federal health and safety guidelines. The $2m investment, assisted by Danske Bank, was designed to help Smiley Monroe compete in the substantial US market.
Mr Monroe added: “We have a long-term relationship with Danske Bank, they have been a key partner for us. They supported us when we were financing our US operation, where sales enquiries continue to be strong, suggesting it will be an even more important market for the business in future.
“There will undoubtedly be some changes in our market, with equipment manufacturers’ production demands potentially reducing in the short term, but their spare parts requirements increasing. We believe we are well positioned and finance from the bank will help as we recalibrate and adapt our sales and marketing strategies to the new economic environment.”
Richard Robinson, Corporate Banking Manager at Danske Bank, said: “Smiley Monroe is a long-established business which has planned extensively for different scenarios and is now implementing its reopening plan, while being very vigilant about the safety of its employees. Danske Bank is pleased to have been able to support the company as it restarts production and looks to the future.”
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