Art Projects for Schools is a Whitstable-based printing company run by chief executive Dan Dickey, aged 60. His firm is working with 2,500 primary schools in the UK and abroad this year to transform children’s artwork into more than six million Christmas cards as well as mugs, T-shirts and calendars.
Every year, the company sees a huge spike in revenue through October and November, as parents and teachers gear up for the festive season – great for kids around Britain who are thrilled to see their designs mass-produced. But it’s been a harder ride for Mr Dickey.
He said: “There are very obvious reasons for my business seeing a cash flow peak in the autumn and anyone looking at the company with an ounce of common sense would be able to identify that. But we have struggled, like so many printing businesses, to get around the ‘computer says no’ mentality of banks.”
Three years ago he turned to bridging lender Fincorp to design a cash flow strategy that worked for both his business and the lender. This year he borrowed £550,000 secured against a third party country estate in Hertfordshire at a 25% LTV.
He said: “This money allows my business to run in the months that we don’t see cash peaks and it’s helped pave the way for me to reinvest in the company and establish a commercial printing capability that will help us smooth out our cash flow peaks and troughs. Fincorp also knows that come autumn, they’ll get that cash back in bulk due to our revenue spike.”
Matthew Anderson, director at London-based short-term finance lender Fincorp, said: “We just had to talk to Mr Dickey for half an hour to get a grip on what his challenge in the business was. By partnering with him and identifying stable security he could borrow against, we were glad to have been able to support a business like his. He doesn’t just print Christmas cards; Art Projects for Schools also offers training and support for teachers to promote children’s creativity. These sorts of businesses give so much more than money back to society – it’s important that they are supported financially, especially when there are so many flexible ways to fund business financing.”
Mr Dickey’s story comes as the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers launches ‘Love Lending Week’, which will run from 3 to 7 November in a bid to raise awareness of the many smaller finance businesses that provide critical support to Britain’s local businesses and help for them to grow.
Marcus Grimshaw, chairman of the NACFB, said: “Love Lending Week celebrates the fantastic work that independent brokers and lenders are doing across the country to help small businesses access finance. SMEs often struggle when it comes to securing funding, so we want to generate awareness about the range of finance options on offer for businesses in the UK and encourage institutions to keep on lending.”