The idea behind Skandel Boathouse was simple: supply great seafood to top chefs cooking in some of the finest kitchens across the UK. Two years on and the business has grown beyond co-founders James and Alex’s wildest expectations.
Their inspiration came from James’ childhood holidays at his family boathouse on the tiny island of Veiholmen in Norway. They would catch lobster and crab, cooking and eating what they had caught almost immediately. Alex grew up in Devon so is no stranger to enjoying seafood just minutes from the water.
Both former chefs, James and Alex’s shared passion for food sparked the first ideas for Skandel Boathouse. They found a big difference between the amazing seafood they had grown up eating and what they had to cook with in London.
“We wanted to have a really simple business where we sold the best seafood to some of the chefs we knew,” James explains. “We very quickly realised that there’s so much opportunity there. The chefs really care about quality and where the food comes from.”
James and Alex created a just-in-time business model underpinned by sustainability. Fresh seafood comes into the Skandel Boathouse headquarters at 4am and is fully distributed by 10am. They repeat this process every day, never holding any stock, so they can guarantee unparalleled quality.
From distributing a few kilograms of crab meat daily, Skandel Boathouse signed their first deal with a major hotel in a matter of months. Before long, they were distributing half a ton of Devon crab, manuka smoked Arctic salmon, wild sashimi tuna and Arctic mahogany clams every day.
This rapid growth created a cash flow challenge for James and Alex: “When we started we were turning over £3k a month. That quickly turned into £100k and within a matter of months up to £300k. When you grow that fast, you start thinking how do we keep the business going? How do we keep our commitments with customers and how do we keep our operations smooth?”
Up until that point, Skandel Boathouse had been paying their fishing partners for stock within 30 days. With the growth of the business, they suddenly found themselves getting paid on 60-day payment terms by their major hotel customers. This created a shortfall. They also needed to expand, moving from a single car to a fleet of vans and taking on new premises.
James and Alex explored invoice financing as a solution to their cash flow challenges. They considered working with their own bank but were put off by the lengthy application process. They also felt that the bank didn’t really understand what Skandel Boathouse was all about.
Alex describes how they came to partner with MarketInvoice instead: “The journey with the banks just seemed like such a hassle when we needed to sort this situation out very quickly. We decided to come to MarketInvoice because they offer an innovative solution and are far more driven towards entrepreneurs like ourselves.
It was a quick onboarding process and we felt very much at the centre of what they were doing for us. They provided immediate funding which meant we could address our challenges straight away and move forward with running the business.”
James and Alex have big plans for growing the Skandel brand including a global expansion to the USA, Denmark and the Netherlands. Their online supermarket featuring a range of specialty artisan food products is set to launch later this year.
“We also have an exciting media project coming up,” James adds. “We’re taking eight of London’s top chefs out to a tiny island off the northwest coast of Norway. We’ll be foraging and fishing, asking key questions about where our food comes from.
Obviously to do all of this we need to have the capital behind us. Working with MarketInvoice gives us the freedom to explore these opportunities.”