“Our seasonal pattern obviously makes banks uncomfortable with extending credit, so thank goodness organisations like ART exist to support the SME sector.”
A trip to Walt Disney World sparked an idea that was to grow into a thriving multi-national business for Dave and Sue Perry. “We purchased a rain poncho when it started to rain,” recalls Dave, “and wondered how they would go down in the UK.”
When the couple got home, they did some research, established a supply chain and set up a website as their sales channel. Sue started the business in 2000 as a sole trader. Dave later joined her in a partnership and the business expanded then incorporated into a limited company. Their son James, among others, joined the business to help meet a growing demand from major tourist attractions and leisure companies as well as individuals ordering for occasions such as festivals.
The StayDry range includes disposable, re-useable and, more recently, an eco-friendly degradable poncho. “Our supply chain is audited annually to ensure ethical standards are maintained,” says Dave. “Quality, reliability and customer service are key. It’s comparatively easy to make a website look good, but what matters is what lies behind it – that’s what makes a successful business. One of our USPs is that we hold significant stock, which enables us to respond quickly to customer demands. There are not many companies that could deliver 100,000 ponchos the same day, but we have done so on more than one occasion!”
Finance Director Warren Delo joined StayDry four years ago. One of his biggest frustrations has been a lack of support from their bank, which is what led the company to seek alternative funding. “Ours is a cyclical business,” he says, “with a reduced income over the winter months. We have a significant working capital requirement as we secure business for the next season and replenish stock. The bank reduced our overdraft facility by more than two thirds between November and February, which was a significant challenge for us. The business trace cycle does not lend itself to confidential invoice discounting and the stock financing product offered did not meet the shortfall in cash required. We believe we would have been exposed to significant risk.”
Exploring options, Warren approached ART through a recommendation from another bank. “Martin at ART was able to very quickly understand the business model and what we needed,” he says.
The loan from ART enabled StayDry to meet its cashflow demands and support its strategy of holding significant stock. Warren adds: “We were in danger of losing business and being unable to continue with our business growth. Thanks to ART we can now look to a brighter future!”