THE owners of one of Inverclyde's most successful businesses say they've been forced into 'survival mode' by the coronavirus pandemic.

Global export firm PG Paper has suffered a dramatic 75 per drop in turnover and furloughed almost a third of its staff.

Boss Puneet Gupta, who runs the company alongside wife Poonam, said the business is in a 'precarious' position as its cashflow problems intensify.

According to Puneet, the crisis has emerged due to payment delays from buyers who are in lockdown and from restricted access to funding sources.

He said: "We're really struggling and trying our hardest to keep going.

"It's the same for so many businesses out there just now.

"May has been worse than April.

"We expect June to be worse again."

Nine staff from a team of around 30 have been placed by the company on the UK Government's job retention scheme, with the state covering 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 per month.

Mr Gupta said the company has 'an incredible bunch of staff who are testament to our success' and he wants to protect all of them.

Puneet said: "It's far too early to say if there will be job losses.

"That would be a step we would take with a very heavy heart.

"It's a delicate balancing act at the moment."

The businessman said problems began to emerge at the start of the year but admits that he did not realise the impact the outbreak would have.

He told the Telegraph: "We have an office in China and began to realise how badly things were affected as far back as January.

"To the end of March, we were having our most successful year ever and had huge ambitions to grow and now there's suddenly this cashflow pressure.

"We thought we would be okay and get through it.

"The issue is that there is now a delay in timeframes.

"Goods shipped in early March are now arriving at destinations all over the world but as so many countries are at different stages of lockdown, we're not receiving payment.

"We need countries around the world to mobilise again and for businesses to get back to normal at some stage."

Founded in 2003 by Kilmacolm-based entrepreneur Poonam Gupta OBE, PG Paper specialises in selling all kinds of paper, from newsprint to tissue and cardboard.

It now operates in 55 countries worldwide, including China, India and South America, and also has a sales office in New York.

Puneet has become frustrated at the lack of funding available for businesses of PG Paper's size and stature and believes that much more information should be provided for companies which need help at this very difficult time.

He said: "We've been speaking to the bank for around five weeks and we're inching closer but there are frustrations around it.

"The hoops you have to jump through get higher and harder.

"We're trying to cut costs and trying to survive.

"The bank could come through and suddenly we're in a sustainable position.

"There are so many businesses that are resilient and strong and qualify for grants and so many that qualify for virtually nothing.

"We don't tick any of the boxes."

Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce said earlier this week that local firms had suffered a 'catastrophic' downturn in cashflow and fears are growing that some may not survive the crisis.

Puneet said: "We need to find out what the plan is for businesses across Scotland and the UK and get a roadmap from the government.

"There's no advice line available for businesses to ask questions.

"There are a lot of unknowns and businesses are suffering in silence.

"It's a lonely place out there but we will get through it.

"It's a precarious situation but we're not giving up.

"We're very much going to fight this.

"If we are struggling there will be thousands of other businesses who are too."