Case study

Fashion wholesaler thrives with combined Invoice and Trade Finance funding

photo of Karen smiling and sitting on a leather desk chair behind a wooden desk

Karen Hutchings, Goose Island Limited

When Karen Hutchings first set up Goose Island Limited it was with the intention to sell children’s Balinese Clothing at houses parties and craft fairs. After a subsequent trip to Asia, she sourced a range of ladies clothing and jewellery she thought could sell well alongside the children’s clothing. She imported the products and started to sell them in the parties and events and also the three shops that she’d opened with much success.

With sales growing, the business ventured into the wholesale sector in 2008. Unfortunately, the company’s trajectory was halted with one debtor going into liquidation and Goose Island suffering a £250k bad debt leaving them no alternative but to go into liquidation themselves.

However, Karen knew she had the solid foundations of a successful business and set off to buy the company back from the liquidators with husband and Managing Director Peter and nephew Karl and, with all creditors repaid, they set up the new limited entity P K and K Imports Limited in 2012 trading as Goose Island through two physical stores in Wales as well as via an online site and quickly establishing itself as one of the leading ladies’ fashion wholesaler in Wales supplying to major clients in the UK and France and going on to pick up the Wales Fashion Award in 2013 and the team having received many more awards since then.

With the business firmly back on its growth trajectory, in 2017 the Hutchings family began looking for a funding partner that could help them take success to the next level by supporting them with their working capital requirements. Ultimate Finance provided a tailored solution comprising of a £150k Invoice Finance facility and a £100k Trade Finance facility that would assist further by allowing them to purchase goods from Italian suppliers who insisted on upfront payments. On the other side, the Invoice Finance would help provide credit terms to their own customers without causing a dent in the cashflow they needed to take on additional orders.

Karl explains, “We needed a solution that could help us scale up so we could fulfil more orders and keep growing. Ultimate Finance took the time to understand our background and the full history of our business in addition to our vision for the future, and they demonstrated how their Trade Finance and Invoice Finance facilities could help us achieve exactly what we were wanting to do. It was evident very quickly that they were the right funder for us, and we decided to go ahead with the two facilities”.

With the facilities in place, the business went from strength to strength and kept on growing, despite having faced many challenging situations throughout the years, both at a company and personal level. 2020 proved a very difficult year, with not only the pandemic forcing all staff to be put on furlough at the height of it and sales grinding to a halt in the physical stores but that year the team also suffered the tragic loss of Managing Director, husband, and Uncle Peter. Karl, who had already taken on a more hands-on role in previous years to support his aunt and uncle, became a director of the business at the time and ensured the business could thrive as part of Peter’s legacy.

Despite retail sales suffering the effects of multiple lockdowns, internet sales boomed, with Karen promoting products on social media with live reviews and demos seeing the brand grow in popularity week by week. She explains, “The pandemic forced many businesses to add new levels of creativity in how they trade, and I thought social media would be the best way to reach our customers at a time when most of us were forced to remain at home. It proved very popular, and sales started to dramatically increase after we’d upload a new video, so the strategy paid off”.

With the Ultimate Finance facility growing alongside the business, the company also moved to a much larger warehouse that offers ample space for stock, offices, meeting rooms and a dedicated space for social media marketing. Relationship Manager Beth Taylor explains, “Our facilities are designed to grow with a business to ensure we provide as much liquidity as possible to keep a business moving in the direction they wish to. Goose Island’s Invoice Finance facility is now at £350k, which is a great testament to the incredible success they have generated over the years. They have been so successful that they have now outgrown the need for their Trade Finance facility! The solution enabled them to build such great relationships with their suppliers that they’re now offering them payment terms directly. This is one of the direct benefits of a Trade Finance facility: it provides more purchase power which, with time, becomes integral to the business and can see them access new benefits from a supplier such as reduced costs, early payment discounts and preferential rates”.

Looking forward to the future, Goose Island is aiming to stay on their upward trajectory with new collections already proving popular. Karl concludes, “The last decade has been filled with incredible ups and downs, and I’m glad to have received the support from Ultimate Finance through it all.  With Beth as our Relationship Manager by our side, we’ve taken the business to new heights, and I’m excited to see what the next ten years have in store for the whole team at Goose Island.

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