21 April 2020
Equals (AIM:EQLS), the fast-growing B2B focused e-banking and international payments group, provides the following update regarding the steps taken by the Group to ensure continuity of service whilst protecting its employees.
Actions taken and contingency plans for COVID-19
As stated previously on 17 March 2020, all Equals staff are working from home and the transition has been proving successful both for business-as-usual and for the ongoing development of new products and revenue streams.
To combat the likely revenue impacts during the global pandemic, the Group has reduced its cost base selectively depending on product lines and levels of demand during the pandemic. The Group has also welcomed and is accessing available government support measures, including the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for approximately 20% of employees. The Group has also implemented measures to reduce 20% of the pay of its employees who have not been furloughed, including the Board and executive management team, as a temporary cash conservation measure. Finally, the success of home-working is also enabling the Board to review the Group’s office space requirements, especially in London.
Furthermore, the Group has taken decisive actions to be in a position to react swiftly to any changes in the situation, including both an extension of the lockdown and, however unlikely, a more rapid return to normal trading than is currently anticipated. Underpinning this readiness are multiple scenario models and key trigger points for action. Through this planning, combined with a strong balance sheet, the Group is confident of its ability to emerge from the crisis in a strong position.
Group revenues to 31 March 2020 were 32% higher than the same period last year at £8.3 million. In terms of revenue split, B2B accounted for 67%, up from 46% in Q1-2019 and 52% for FY-2019.
The robust Q1-2020 performance was built upon strong growth in International Payments (up by 116%) and also Corporate Banking (up by 30%), however, this was offset by declines due to the pandemic in March 2020 in Travel Money* (down by 30%) and Corporate Expense platform usage (down by 11%).
International Payments were supported by volatile currency markets which saw corporate customers transacting to hedge positions. B2B banking saw increased new account openings as more companies sought to move to online trading. Further growth in B2B banking is expected from continuous user experience upgrades to the platform combined with additional functionality coming on stream in late April 2020.
The global pandemic has also impacted reporting timetables for numerous public companies as auditors need longer to finalise their processes due to remote working and revised guidance issued from the Financial Reporting Council. The Group is in constant dialogue with its auditors, PWC, and currently expects to publish its final results for the year ended 31 December 2019 in late May 2020 and hold the Group’s AGM in late June 2020. However, both dates are subject to change and will be confirmed in due course.
The outlook for Q2-2020 is largely dictated by the length and severity of the lockdown here in the UK and impact on the global economy. The effects of COVID-19 in Q1-2020 varied by product with a more pronounced effect on Travel Money than International Payments and corporate platform usage. For Q2-2020, the early indications are within the Group’s median expectations on its scenario modelling, reinforcing the relatively strong position of the business to withstand the pandemic and to emerge in a strong position when the situation abates.
Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals Group, said:
“We are pleased with the resilience that business has demonstrated in Q1-2020 which reflects the underlying growth of the business in ‘normal’ conditions and validates our strategy over the last two years of transforming the business to one that focuses largely on B2B. We have also taken decisive and prudent steps to protect the Group including cost reduction measures and this combined with the continued dedication of our staff, provides us with increased confidence that we will emerge from this pandemic in a strong position.”
For more information, please contact:
|Equals Group plc
Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO
Richard Cooper, Group CFO
|+44 (0) 20 7778 9308
|Cenkos Securities plc - (Nominated Advisor / Joint Broker)
Max Hartley /Callum Davidson
Nick Searle (Sales)
|+44 (0) 20 7397 8900|
|Canaccord Genuity - (Joint Broker)
Bobbie Hilliam /David Tyrrell
Alex Aylen (Sales)
|+44 (0) 20 7523 8150|
|+44 (0) 20 7466 5000
Notes to Editors:
Equals is a leading challenger brand in banking and payments that disintermediates the incumbent banks with a superior user experience and low-cost operating model. The Group enables its personal and business customers to make easy, low-cost payments both domestically and in a broad range of currencies across a range of products all via one integrated system.
Equals provides money movement services to both business and personal customers through five inter-connected channels - International Payments, Corporate Expenses platform, Bank Accounts, Travel Money (*comprising currency cards and physical currency). International Payments channel supports wire transfer foreign exchange transactions direct to bank accounts. For corporates, Equals has a market-leading business-expenses solution based around its corporate platform and prepaid card which yields significant cost savings via tighter control on expenses before they are incurred coupled with eliminating inefficient processes. Equals also offers business and retail bank accounts with all the functionality offered by banks, namely faster payments, BACs, direct debits, international payments and a debit card. The Travel Money offerings (retail currency card and physical currency) represent cost-effective and secure methods for travelers to spend abroad.