Four Oaks Trade Show Review: Former BALI chairman John Gillan hits out at bank behaviour

Former BALI chairman and Edinburgh-based landscape contractor John Gillan has hit out at "money-grabbing" tactics of banks, whose recent behaviour "made the actions of the most claim-orientated contractor pale into insignificance".

Speaking during the second day of the HW-sponsored Four Oaks Trade Show seminar programme, Gillan told of his shock when he discovered that an overdraft facility for £100,000 which he does not need but has always had, "being a bit of a belt and braces man", would this year cost £2,500 instead of the usual £750.

"It's some trick that the financial institutions have managed; we bailed them out, now we are paying for them to pay us back."

Gillan, who was speaking on the subject of surviving the recession, said he did not expect to see the commercial landscaping sector "reach the bottom of the curve" until some time between late winter and the summer of 2010.

He said it was impossible to predict how long the bottom of the curve would be, thanks to government spending which was "distorting the picture" in Scotland. He said: "While the schools programme will be largely completed by the spring of next year, we still have several hospitals, prisons and road extensions to come on stream."

His key concerns were how long it will take for the money markets to get back to some normality so that project financing will restart, and where and when cuts in government spending will take place.

"My belief is we have not seen the worst of the recession yet in respect of our industry; we are now seeing the price pressures creeping in, we have clients waiting until the last minute before awarding work to see if someone will break ranks and reduce their prices."

Gillan advised businesses to "always keep your word" when dealing with suppliers, to keep employees informed of developments and keep talking to banks. He added: "A recession is a time for strengthening relationships."


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