For the past seventeen years, Press Red Rentals have been hiring audio-visual, IT, sound, lighting and video equipment for use at exhibitions and events.
We've had steady growth over the years, moving from a start-up working in the garage at home, through a small workshop unit behind a former butchers' shop into the modest warehouse unit today.
Initially our business was hiring equipment to the end-user exhibitors at exhibitions in the UK, which then lead to us working with exhibition stand contractors and design agencies on projects across the UK.
Just over twelve years ago we started working on projects in Europe, and since then we have been working with customers from EU countries such as Slovakia, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Holland and from further afield in the USA, Canada and Taiwan.
The past three or four years have seen good, steady growth in business, and 2020 was set to be our biggest ever year. Advanced bookings were healthy, new customer relationships were being developed. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
On February 12th the exhibition at which we earn the most revenue each year, Mobile World Congress was cancelled. This cancellation acted like a catalyst for other cancellations; there was a domino effect until governments across Europe introduced "lockdowns". The exhibition and events industry, worth some £70bn to the UK economy was effectively put on pause.
With the onset of the panic, we acted quickly to cut costs and maintain survival. Our headcount was reduced from 12 to 8 members of staff, and we renegotiated every commitment we could think of to save money; rent, equipment leases etc, and began liquidating under-utilised assets to maintain cash flow.
Eventually, we had to make the decision to lay team members off. However, we have been fortunate that we qualified for a business grant as we are in receipt of business rates relief, and the covid job retention scheme will enable us to support our team longer.
Our team is smaller than it was at the beginning of the year, but it is incredibly close-knit. Many of them have been with us for a relatively long time. The average length of employment is around five years. They're an incredibly talented group of individuals, that work exceptionally well as a team. One member of our team, who started as an apprentice, won an industry award last year, which was richly deserved. This crowdfunder is about protecting their livelihoods more than protecting the business.
The exhibition industry was one of the first to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and due to social-distancing measures will probably one of the last to get back to work in any shape or form. Exhibition venues across Europe have been transformed into temporary hospitals, and many countries have restricted the holding of events until the end of August at the earliest.
When we do emerge from the shadow of Covid-19, the industry will be a much-changed landscape. The supply chain of which we are part will be decimated. Companies will have disappeared, through no real fault of their own. Exhibitors will be cautious with their money, so budgets will be tighter and lead times will be shorter as exhibitors and organisers will leave decisions such as running and participating in exhibitions as late as possible. This will be the "new normal" for a considerable amount of time.
To enable us to be ready for when we are allowed to venture back to site, we have been looking at our procedures to ensure they can accommodate last-minute requests, and analysing our pricing and cost structures so that we can be efficient and offer our clients the best value for money.
With this crowdfunder, we are offering the opportunity of purchasing "hire vouchers" which can be redeemed at any point in the future against equipment hire for your event. Our main market is exhibitions, but our equipment is also used for conferences, training courses, working from home, wedding receptions, parties, school speech days, product launches, church fetes etc. The list is endless and only limited by your imagination.
These vouchers have a value of 1:1.5 - i.e. for every £1.00 you put towards your voucher, you get £1.50 of equipment hire back. (for example, pledge £100, and spend £150 on equipment hire). Some basic terms and conditions will apply (availability of stock, for example), but we're not trying to catch anybody out here.
We hope you can help us through this difficult time, so that we can help you during the good times.