‘Securing Hitachi’s loan has given us confidence’

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick February 13, 2021 12:20

The owner of three golf venues explains why Hitachi Capital’s one-stop-shop approach to finance has been so beneficial during the pandemic.

There has never been a greater need for easy access to finance for the golf industry as it copes with the fall out from the Covid-19 pandemic and looks forward to growth as conditions improve.

Hitachi Capital, a major player in the financial services sector, has recognised this, and the golf sector can now take advantage of its range of products that when combined, cover all eventualities.

In recent years Hitachi has been assisting a growing number of businesses in the golf sector by providing asset finance, retail finance, membership finance and more recently, helping to deliver the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Hitachi’s tailor-made, one-stop-shop approach, delivered by financial experts with a deep knowledge of the golf industry, is a perfect model for helping businesses ride the storm.

Individual components of Hitachi’s golf products can be accessed alone, or as part of an all-embracing package which gives seamless support across many strands of a business.

Hitachi currently offers asset funding to more than 300 golf clubs, golf professionals and driving ranges, providing funding for assets such as greenkeeping machinery for ongoing golf maintenance and swing studios for the pros to use when teaching at their respective driving ranges.

Launched last year, Membership Finance is aimed at clubs looking to attract new members and retain existing ones. It is flexible – and unlike those of its competitors – there is no demand on clubs should members default on their payments. The immediate payment of membership fees also boosts cashflow by providing clubs with the full fee within five days of a successful membership application.

Retail Finance boosts pro shop and stores’ golf equipment sales by offering shoppers interest free loans. Hitachi supplies this service to more than 140 pro shops and retail stores nationwide.

Hitachi is an accredited lender of the government’s CBILS, providing financial support to small businesses across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cash flow disrupted, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Many golf businesses are taking advantage through Hitachi’s expertise in the sector.

Among those who have seen the value of Hitachi’s embracing packages is Steve Pockneall (pictured), the owner of Evolution Golf.

With a number of diverse golf businesses, including courses, PGA golf shops, coaching academies and driving ranges, Steve has sought a number of finance packages to ensure the seamless and coordinated running of his operations.

A former golf professional with many years’ experience in the industry, Steve owns Ferndown Forest Golf Club, Salisbury Golf Centre and the Tickenham Golf Centre in the south west. He also provides full PGA pro-shop services at the Ferndown Golf Club and Royal Winchester Golf Club.

The Golf Business asked him to outline the benefits he has seen from the financial services supplied by Hitachi.

How has Hitachi Asset Finance benefitted your business operations?

I have a very good working relationship with Hitachi, my first port of call for anything I want to lease or purchase, ranging from a £10,000 coffee machine to course mowers and other equipment, to TrackMan units for the ranges. They are brilliant to work with – very approachable, have a great knowledge of the golf industry, and work with companies with a similar high level of detail and experience.

The service I receive is absolutely first class. They talk my language and don’t come across as salesmen or accountants.

Has Retail Finance for the professional shop helped sales?

We operate five retail shops and over the past three to four years via the TGI scheme managed by Hitachi, we have been able to offer customers 0% finance on price-matched products. The customer interface is brilliant, via the internet, face-to-face or over the phone, and being able to offer great products at 0% means golfers have no need to look elsewhere.

What attracted you to Hitachi Membership Finance?

I think we were the second or third club to make use of the membership finance scheme and it has worked like a dream. I had previously considered a competitor but as they sought to claw back member payment defaults, I hadn’t bothered. Hitachi absorbs these losses, which is worth its weight in gold. They look after the management with members from start to finish and the service is amazing. Our cash flow concerns have been removed as they take all the liability and pay the full membership fee up front as soon as someone signs up. We have used this scheme for two years and it has been a phenomenal success. It is a great tool for securing new members.

How did Hitachi help you access the CBILS support loan?

I was delighted to find that Hitachi was a government accredited lender of CBILS. When the first lockdown came last March we approached Hitachi for a government loan because we did not know what was going to happen to the industry or what our future held. Hitachi managed the application and the loan has provided us with an invaluable safety net. As it happens we had our best summer ever and we anticipate 2021 to be even better due to ‘staycations’ and the fact that golf is seen as a safe pursuit in terms of the virus. The current lockdown is a worry but securing the loan has given us confidence.

To find out more about Hitachi’s Golf Finance options call them today on 0333 9960 288 or enquire online at HitachiCapital.co.uk


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick February 13, 2021 12:20
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