UCD Students’ Union are awaiting confirmation of a €1.1 million loan to refinance the Union’s €1.4 million debt. They submitted their Business Plan to a number of financial institutions in June, and “one of them is coming very close to accepting it.”
UCDSU President Rachel Breslin says there is nothing more the Union can do to speed up the lending process. “Once you submit something, you’re on their timescales then. We keep doing our best to try and ask what’s going on or if we need to submit any more information, but we’re hopeful. It’s moving faster over the last few weeks but from our side of the process, it’s done. We’ve submitted it, we’ve answered any questions, but it comes down to the other party.”
The Union is currently trading “in the traditional fashion”, and with the assistance of McNally Business Service Ltd are preparing cash flows “to ensure that we are trading in the correct manner and doing everything the way it should be.”
Though they have applied for a €1.1 million loan, Breslin states that: “It is not our intention to draw out the full amount of that loan just yet. Some of the money was towards capital investment in our shops so that’s not the extent of what we need, but that’s the amount we sought in order to fully enact the business plan that we are projecting over the next five years.”
The SU’s two main shops, under the library and in the student centre, have been making annual losses of “over tens of thousands”. Two commercial managers have been hired for the first semester to “bring in new management practices, new training practices, new work structures, rosters and opening hours.” At the end of term, the SU plan to reassess the financial situation in the shops and the best options for their operation in the long-term.
Breslin is confident that a loan can be secured, however if the financial institution in question reject their Business Plan, she plans to seek alternative refinancing options. “If we do not get a loan, perhaps we try and expand, we cast our net out wider and apply to other [institutions]. By essence of a loan, that is your least preferred option but it’s the one we had to take because our situation is so severe. If that does happen, we look and ask what situation made us so unviable, because we are a trading entity. A limited company that has a guaranteed income stream from student contribution every year, that isn’t accepted for refinancing, while also having shops on a campus of 25 thousand students is a very worrying thing indeed.”