Haverhill firm Qualitape boosted by Bibby funding

Malcolm Rowson and Gary Speller of Qualitape, a company in Haverhill, Suffolk, assisted by Bibby Financial Services. Credit: Professional Images/@ProfImages

Malcolm Rowson and Gary Speller of Qualitape, a company in Haverhill, Suffolk, assisted by Bibby Financial Services. Credit: Professional Images/@ProfImages


A Haverhill-based supplier of packaging, tapes and adhesives was able to grow following refinancing after initial struggles to get the cash.

Qualitape, in Sarah Court, employs six people and last year had a turnover of £630,000.

Founded in 1991 when Gary Speller became increasingly frustrated by the poor service provided by the packaging supplier he worked for, but the company went on the face cash-flow problems in 2002, 2009 and 2012.

Each time it persevered after initially switching to Bibby Financial Services to support them through a restructure, with the latest funding of £125,000 seeing a 34 per cent increase in turnover in the last six months of last year.

This year the company expects a further increase of 20 per cent, taking turnover to over £800,000.

In 2002 the company faced significant cashflow problems due to the challenging economic conditions at that time, and looked to its finance supplier for support.

Malcolm Rowson, who had been involved with the company on a consultancy basis, recommended Bibby as the current provider was unable to increase funding levels.

The business moved over to Bibby as the flexibility built into its facility meant Qualitape could generate more working capital and ease their cashflow worries.

“Something had to be done to ensure the survival of the company,” he said.

Mr Speller added: “We looked to our funders, but they had a set way of doing things and would not move from their procedure.

“There was absolutely no flexibility there.”

“Bibby was more cost-effective than our previous funding provider, but this was not the main reason for moving – it was all about the flexibility that was offered.”

In 2009 the business found itself in difficulty once again due to economic recession, as it was faced with three large debts that it could not carry.

The re-launch of the business was carried out with the help of Bibby and a Danish investor.

Following a further number of years of stagnation the business was re-launched in 2012 – a process that was supported by Bibby - and in the past 18 months its fortunes have significantly improved.

The last six months of 2013 saw a 34 per cent increase in turnover against the last six months of 2012, and the company expects to see a further increase in turnover of about 20 per cent for 2014, to £800,000.

Mr Speller added: “The facility from Bibby has enabled us to do business that we would not otherwise have been able to do, due to a lack of cashflow.

“We’re always conscious of stock levels, and cash being tied up in stock and the service we’ve been offered has helped enormously.

“We recently increased our funding from £100,000 to £125,000 which has given us more working capital – enabling us to buy in goods for customers and rely less on supplier credit.”

Qualitape has a wide range of customers, including businesses in the food industry, internet sellers and furniture manufacturers.

Bibby’s funding enables the company to produce bespoke products to meet specific customer demands, such as personalised printing.

Mr speller said: “The funding has enabled us to develop and grow the business.

“Our short term plan is to purchase a tape cutting machine so that – instead of buying it pre-cut – we can buy the tape in log form and cut it down from big rolls to whatever size our customers want.

“Our plans for this year are to achieve a sustainable level of growth and we will be taking on one or two more staff.

“With the flexible funding facility from Bibby, we are confident about the future and are not averse to looking at larger scale expansion or taking over other businesses.

“While it is the case that the business has suffered due to economic recessions over the past 15 years, it is now true that the recovery we are seeing is providing a much-welcome boost.

Sharon Wiltshire, managing director for Bibby in East Anglia, said: “Research we have conducted shows that companies in East Anglia are planning for an upturn in the regional economy in 2014.

“Qualitape is a great example of a company that has looked at its finance arrangements and made changes to match its aspirations.

“Businesses need reassurance that the funding facility they have in place offers them flexibility – something which is of real importance to Gary and Malcolm as they set about boosting turnover this year.

“The invoice finance funding line we are providing Qualitape gives them this flexibility and cash flow to match their business’s performance and ambition.”

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (March 6) Echo.




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