Established for more than 30 years, Stone Marketing are a distributor of high-quality stationary and corporate gifts. They are exclusive distributors for a number of products and their customer base consists of both high-street stores and online retailers.
The business has been using an invoice discounting facility with Close Brothers for nearly 20 years, enabling them to access working capital as soon as customer invoices are raised.
Coronavirus business challenge
Historically, a significant percentage of Stone Marketing’s sales have come from bricks-and-mortar stores, including both well-known chains and independent outlets. From an early stage in the COVID-19 pandemic, the senior team forecast that a drop in footfall could disrupt the SME’s income, and over a longer term, negatively impact their balance sheet.
The management took immediate steps to protect cash flow. They placed a renewed focus on the online side of the company, with orders redirected straight to clients from manufacturers in some cases. They also furloughed the majority of staff and adapted operations for a skeleton workforce when possible, putting social distancing and other safety measures in place.
With rapid changes to their business model necessary, and ongoing uncertainty impacting their key markets, it was deemed prudent to seek additional funding. Having planned for a range of scenarios, the additional liquidity could be used in lieu of lost revenue to reduce any adverse effects on trading.
Having already established a strong relationship over many years, Stone Marketing contacted their dedicated relationship manager soon after lockdown to discuss the situation and funding options that could be open to them. When Close Brothers Invoice Finance were accredited to offer the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS”) it presented a good way to protect cash flow in an uncertain environment.
The SME worked closely with their account manager to complete the CBILS application form and ensure that the additional lending would meet requirements if their income changed. Once the application was completed, a sum of £500,000 was deposited in Stone Marketing’s account within a week.
Simon Stone at Stone Marketing said: “I can’t praise Close Brothers enough. The excellent service we received made the application process feel much easier. Our relationship manager went above and beyond to provide help and information. In fact, I even received responses to queries at weekends.
“The CBILS funding has provided a safety net. It has allowed us to sleep at night and feel confident about the future despite the ongoing challenges many markets face.”