Working Capital Case Study
Name: Marketing Fashion Ltd
Industry: Distributor of Bespoke fashion
Turnover: £100k +
“Marketing Fashion’s initial success was due to the thorough research and careful planning we had undertaken. But while our wholesale and retail sales were performing well, we were struggling with the all-important administrative tasks of collecting customer payment and chasing up on outstanding invoices. The delay in our customers paying us meant that we didn’t have the readily available supply of cash required to drive the business forward.”
As husband and wife team Daniel and Alison Cutler will testify, possessing a talent for designing innovative and stylish garments and being able to identify trends is not always enough to guarantee success in the fiercely competitive world of international fashion.
Having both spent 15 successful years working in the industry, Daniel and Alison took the plunge in 2008 to set up Marketing Fashion Ltd, a distributor of bespoke designer ladies and men’s clothing, selling predominantly to specialist boutiques.
The Cutlers had opted to finance the enterprise themselves via the sale of property and the cashing in of existing investments. But despite a more-than-promising first year’s trading – the business was quickly able to list leading US sportswear company, Robert Graham, and premium denim business, Agave, among its main suppliers – it soon became apparent to Daniel and Alison that using their own capital to finance the business was unsustainable and threatened to inhibit the growth that the business was forecast.
Daniel explains: “Marketing Fashion’s initial success was due to the thorough research and careful planning we had undertaken. But while our wholesale and retail sales were performing well, we were struggling with the all-important administrative tasks of collecting customer payment and chasing up on outstanding invoices. The delay in our customers paying us meant that we didn’t have the readily available supply of cash required to drive the business forward.
“In order to address this, we spoke to a number of banks and even considered bringing a partner into the business. But the problem we faced was that neither of these had a clear understanding about the fashion business. We have two seasons – January to February and July to August – during which the majority of our trading takes place. This evidently proved to be a problem for potential financiers as we were considered high risk.”
A number of the fashion companies Daniel and Alison had worked with used invoice finance as a means of improving their cash flow, and following a recommendation from one of their retailers, they were introduced to independent invoice financier Bibby Financial Services.
Daniel continues: “A lot of our time is spent visiting clients, and as a two-man operation, the impact of one of us not being in the office was also proving to be substantial as we had less time to deal with the necessary but time-consuming tasks such as collecting outstanding invoice payments.
“But we were looking for more than just a finance provider; we were also seeking some support with the more intricate aspects of importing and distribution such as packaging, overseas shipment and customs duties.”
Even as early as the first meeting, the Cutlers realised that Bibby Financial Services was in an ideal position to resolve a number of their major issues.
“Knowing that time spent out of the office was an inconvenience, Bibby came to see us at our premises. This was a truly positive initial statement, as it indicated they were here to make life as easy as possible for us,” says Daniel.
“We talked about our plans for the business, discussed our international trade growth ambitions and the level of financial support we felt we needed. We were also introduced to the company’s logistics arm, Bibby Distribution, and immediately identified how our import and export function could be enhanced. The process could not have been any more straightforward, and within three weeks, Bibby had implemented a number of packages which more than met our requirements.”
Using Bibby Financial Services’ International Trade product proved to be the perfect solution for Daniel and Alison. By providing upfront funding against confirmed customer orders and then releasing a percentage of the value of outstanding invoices raised against those orders
Marketing Fashion was provided with a smooth and ongoing source of finance. The facility enabled Marketing Fashion to continue trading, avoid the headache of handling its own credit control and, most importantly, focus on achieving substantial growth.