How did you get started?
“My wife and I originally worked in retail and we had a number of retail shops. We found it very difficult to source framed product – prints and empty frames. We started manufacturing above a small shop in Bridgend, South Wales and then transferred the business to a small industrial unit. It all developed from there really. As we attracted bigger customers, we needed more space and more capacity. Today we supply most of the UK’s top retailers with frames, mirrors and framed art. We have an absolutely brilliant team – some staff members have been with the business from the outset.”
What challenges did you encounter?
“You have to move with the time…..diversify or die. Framed product is a fashion item and we are good at reacting to the ever changing trends in fashion….. colours and designs are critical, but you have to be aware of the margins…you cannot lose sight of that. There are products we cannot produce competitively in the UK and as such we do source those products from the Far East . For example, when the trend in mirrors went from ‘plain’ to’ art deco’ with a lot of detailing – we couldn’t produce them in the UK competitively. Whilst we have a robust Far Eastern supply chain the biggest challenge is communication and as such you have to build a relationship with a particular factory. There are a lot of things that can go wrong if you don’t choose the right partner – copyrights, price undercutting, etc.”
What impact has the financing from Spotcap had for Reflex?
“The Spotcap loan has been fantastic for Reflex. Raising finance can be very stressful at a time when you should be concentrating on your business. The local broker we worked with, Joe Patrick, and Spotcap were great. They took all the stress from myself and my team. Communication and the application process was very simple. It’s extremely important that you work very closely with your funder. Although you lend to a business you also lend to people. There is always a story behind the figures…… Spotcap saw that and reacted quickly.
At the time we were moving premises and consequently we upgraded our existing plant and machinery, furthermore, there was a requirement to purchase additional stock to roll out an initial large order to Homebase. We have an Invoice Financing facility but in this particular instance it was not available…..the facility was totally inflexible. The Spotcap facility puts it in your hands to decide how much to draw down from your credit line and when.
I see a bright future for the business because of the infrastructure we developed over the years and the funding partners we have. We will continue to develop new products thus gaining market share and at the same time we will continue to use the UK manufactures more as there is an emphasis on products labeled ‘Made in the UK’. Furthermore, it is critical we maintain our current service levels…delivering 100% quality product on time. We are trouble-free supplier, no quality issues, no service issues, no performance issues, paper issues, payment issues, product made in the UK. That has been the basis of our success.”