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Access to Finance

Hub support helps drive dramatic growth and job creation at Dower Transport

Stockport-based container haulier start-up sees impressive scale-up; delivering its 5-Year operational plan and financial targets by Year 2; despite a pandemic.

The Overview

Husband and wife team John and Cathy Dower had 20 years’ experience working in the road haulage industry; expertise they aspired to utilise to create their own business.

That dream was realised when Dower Transport Ltd was incorporated in May 2019.

To drive things forward, they approached the GC Business Growth Hub, initially for support from Access to Finance (A2F) with regards to funding.

Access to Finance provided direct advisory support recommending an approach for funding under the Government-backed Start-up loan scheme. Follow on support was then elicited regarding strategic advice and business planning via the Hub’s Growth team.

The Challenge

The challenge presented to the Access to Finance service was to support the production of a compelling business lending proposal, involving the development of a business plan and robust financial forecasts. This work saw a successful lending approach made under the Government-backed Start-Up loan scheme in May 2019 when loan facilities over a term of 5-years were agreed by GC Business Finance.

This finance enabled the set-up of business offices in Stockport, the purchase of computer hardware and specialist equipment and for the business to begin to implement its strategic growth plans.

The introduction by Access to Finance to a Business Growth Advisor then saw one to one advice provided which supported the business’s early trading cycle. This led to the adoption of key marketing strategies, HR functions, staff training, business risk, contingency planning, change management as well as advice regarding intellectual property matters.

As the business gained traction, John and Cathy’s experience and industry contacts were key and the company was soon dealing with some of the largest shipping lines in the world.

9 months into their trading cycle saw the start of the COVID-19 lockdown when there was a huge demand for transport. John and Cathy were very proud that they were able to significantly support their clients at this time of national and international emergency.

The next step was to improve the company’s digital presence and cyber security as well as develop a greater emphasis towards risk management. The company needed to work in ‘real time’, booking slots at ports and so missing those slots due to computer failure wasn’t an option.

“It would have let our customers down and harmed our reputation for reliability,” explains John.

The Impact

Hub advisors made recommendations regarding business strategy, operational and financial risk; aimed at supporting the short- and medium-term trading cycle of the business.

A business impact assessment was also undertaken, and advice was provided regarding business continuity and putting in place key contingency procedures.

Overall, the support has led to strong and sustainable growth, with aspirational 5-year sales forecasts being surpassed in only the business’s second year of trading following its inception in May 2019.

As John says: “The support from the Business Growth Hub has helped to secure a sustainable future for the business. Whilst we had an in-depth knowledge of the haulage industry, we felt that we didn’t possess all the skills and knowledge we needed to set up and finance the business or to appreciate and legislate for some of the risks involved”.

“From helping with the initial funding to improving the way in which we’ve managed risk, the benefit of working with the Growth Hub and having so much expert advice on tap has been phenomenal.”

“This is a great example of how our services can accelerate growth and help to create jobs,” adds the Hub’s specialist Access to Finance advisor Geoff Clowes, who with his colleagues in the Growth Team worked closely with the business.

Having created 5 employment positions, more new jobs are planned as the company continues to scale up its operations.

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