The Craft Drink Company is a drinks wholesaler – although Richard Chamberlain, founder and MD, prefers to think of it as a curator of amazing drinks. Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, they work only with independent UK producers, many of which are right there on their doorstep.
Richard started his career in financial services but had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. In 2004, when his first daughter was born, he knew the time was right to start his own business. He opened and ran a local market town delicatessen for 5 years before setting up a farm shop and café.
“My aha moment for starting the Craft Drink Company really came in 2010 while I was running the farm shop,” says Richard. “I could see that there was an opportunity out there to curate a collection of local drinks and sell them into the marketplace. Nobody was doing it so it meant that as a retailer, I had to buy everything direct. That felt like a great opportunity for me to build a successful and scalable business.”
Richard had to build this new business from scratch. With no warehouse or vans, he worked mostly from his kitchen or car, dedicating almost all of his time to visiting potential customers. When he first started The Craft Drink Company, they represented six brands. Now, five years later, they represent over 110 carefully selected local, regional and craft producers.
“It’s fair to say that we’ve had a number of great moments along our journey,” Richard recalls. “From the very first warehouse that we took on to the first member of staff and first big, juicy customer. We won Best Local Supplier last year, that was clearly a big moment! And of course most recently our move to a new warehouse. That really has been a momentous moment for us, but there’ll be more in 2019, I don’t doubt.”
Moving to the new warehouse was the next key step for The Craft Drink Company, giving them five times the space to take on more brands and expand the business. They now had the capacity to handle a much larger amount of stock and more deliveries. Richard knew they’d also need working capital to make it happen.
“Because we were growing, we needed an ever-increasing amount of working capital to fund our increasing stock holding and the credit accounts that we offer to our customers,” Richard explains. “We were regularly running out of cash, so we started looking for funding solutions.”
The Craft Drink Company already had a development loan and overdraft with their bank. These had been very helpful in the early days but Richard found that they had become too rigid, failing to grow alongside the business. They spent some time looking at what other options were out there and that’s when they were introduced to MarketInvoice.
“I came to appreciate that invoice finance from MarketInvoice would be the best form of finance for us as a growing business,” Richard says. “Fundamentally, it’s about being on an upward growth curve year in, year out, and having a facility that will enable us to do that. Because invoice finance is related to our sales ledger, our facility will grow with us as a business.”
Richard had first looked into other, more traditional, invoice finance providers. Ultimately, he felt that MarketInvoice’s tech-driven solutions were quicker and easier to use – something very important to him as a busy entrepreneur.
“We chose MarketInvoice because their solutions help me make the most of my time.” explains Richard. “That enables me to focus on the things that I really want to be focusing on like talking to customers, working with producers and growing our business – instead of worrying about cash.”
With funding in place, Richard and his team are heading into 2019 with a renewed focus on their growth ambitions. They’ll be making the most of their new warehouse, scaling rapidly by expanding their range and offering, taking on new customers and selling more drinks.
“When we started the business, our first year’s turnover was £70k. This current financial year, we’re likely to turn over £2.1m,” Richard adds. “If we keep growing at 50% per annum (which is what we’re certainly planning to do), it won’t be long before we’ll be £5m and then the goal will be £10m. We wouldn’t be able to do that if we didn’t have a good relationship with MarketInvoice and good working capital to make it possible.”