‘It’s about caring’: £500,000 pledged to help struggling equestrian retailers as the industry shows its quality

  • A pledge of £500,000 to support struggling equestrian retailers is an example of how the industry is pulling together in the coronavirus pandemic.

    David Mitson, whose investment company owns brands including Gatehouse, Mark Todd Collection and Science Supplements, has pledged the money, for support and investment, in the short and long term.

    “We’re in uncharted waters with the likelihood of the economic downturn affecting many equestrian stores throughout the country,” Mr Mitson said.

    “Many of these stores have been loyal customers to our brands and the challenges some may now be facing are unprecedented.

    “For businesses looking for support and investment, we are here to help, both for the short term, but also to provide growth opportunities for the future.”

    Companies are encouraged to email contact@hlm-group.com, in confidence.

    Yards and private individuals are stepping up too; dressage rider and trader Rob Trobridge is offering two fields, with water and shelter, at his yard near Hook, Hampshire, to anyone self-isolating or concerned about caring for their horses.

    “The fields aren’t doing anything and that seemed silly, if they can be used to help someone out. We’ve got a brick-built field shelter too, so they can come in if needed,” he told H&H.

    “We’ve got 15 in so a couple more doesn’t make much difference to us but it could make a huge difference to someone else; it’s the least we can do.”

    Phil Baker, of Science Supplements Onley Grounds EC, paid tribute to those who are showing their quality at present.

    “We’ve had it confirmed how amazing the people around us are here; from competitors to staff to sponsors,” he said.

    Phil said the centre had contacted those who had already booked stables or made entries, and that an “overwhelming” number of those had said they would roll the credit on, rather than asking for refunds.

    “That enables us to look after the people who genuinely need it,” he said. “If we don’t look after those people who work in the industry, when we reopen, they won’t be there.

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    “Through the kindness of people who can do it, we can look after those who will struggle.”

    Phil paid tribute to Onley’s staff and its headline sponsor, which is still supporting the venue while no competitions are running.

    “This is when you see the kind of people you’re working with; if it was all about money, they’d drop us, but it’s not, it’s about caring,” he said.

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