Thames Technology develops, manufactures, personalises, and distributes payment, gift, loyalty, and commercial cards. Anything with a magnetic strip or chip. It manufactures over 200 million cards every year, distributing them to over 60 countries. Customers range from government bodies and retail giants to fintech and holiday firms, with 30 percent of business generated by export.
Transforming family-business to corporate entity
Founded as a family run business in Rayleigh, Essex almost 25 years ago, Thames Technology (Thames) employs 155 people. Following investment by BGF, the Business Growth Fund, in 2013, the company has been steadily transforming into a professionally managed corporate. A new senior leadership team brought in to drive investment and change across the organisation has enabled the company to flourish. Providing outstanding service, delivering larger contracts and innovating its product offering in an extremely buoyant market.
Robin Hilton, chief finance officer, Thames, explained, “We were seeing an explosion of fintech across the market and opportunities to grow revenue. To take advantage of these opportunities we needed to undertake a complete company transformation. This was never going to be an easy task and relied on a financial partner to support our increased working capital requirements.”
Maximising assets and opportunities
During the early stages of the transformation, Thames partnered with an asset based lender. In 2018, however, Thames approached Dave Edwards, partner at FRP Advisory, to source greater working capital and ensure the liquidity of its assets was being maximised. The increased funding was vital to enable the company to continue on its transformational journey and pursue further market growth. It wanted a flexible lender who would understand its growth aspirations and the momentum of the market. Thames needed a partner who would join it on the next stage of its journey from well-run corporate to world class service partner.
IFAs can help you secure the right facility
The year prior, Thames invested £2m in plant machinery, a huge asset - and opportunity - that was underutilised. Dave Edwards analysed several ABLs and concluded that Independent Growth Finance (IGF) offered the strongest asset based lending facility. He explained, “Our role in these situations is to put rigour in the process. We speak to six or more shortlisted lenders, secure terms from at least half of those and finally filter down to one or two. This means clients can be sure they are getting the best outcome; the highest amount of lending, ongoing certainty, and flexibility around the usage of the facility.”
In total, £3.9m was secured in the form of invoice discounting and plant and machinery.
“We hadn’t crossed paths with IGF before,” explained Robin Hilton, “until they were presented to us by FRP Advisory. They were excellent from the start. They really got to know us; recognising the momentum in the market and our transformational achievements. During the process, they met every single deadline and provided us with a level of flexibility that we were delighted with. Their approach was to create a facility that supported and worked with us. They delivered exactly what we needed.”
Mike Fletcher, ABL director, IGF added,“Our core purpose is to support the growth aspirations of UK SMEs, yet many of the clients we work with are simultaneously facing both opportunities and challenges. This is where alternative finance can help. While many traditional lenders will only see the challenges, we saw a game-changing opportunity ahead of Thames that could be funded by secure assets. This enables the team to focus on doing what they do best in an extremely exciting market.”
Tap-and-go to the future
Last year saw order volumes increase and Thames anticipate sales will continue growing by around 20 percent through 2019. By March 2020 the company expects annual contracted turnover of £16m. Robin Hilton explained, “A lot of this will be driven by the continued growth of the fintech sector as cards replace cash for payments, especially with the uptake of contactless technology. We now have the capacity to invest in the production of metal cards for premium customers, in biometric cards and in the growing secure identity market. As a corporate entity we offer customers everything from one source; from planning and design to management and fulfilment. We’re excited about where we can go with the right funding and support from IGF.”