Essex based start-up has the eye for design

Growing design business expanding rapidly with help from independent funder

I4DZINE 1000x665
Chelmsford, Essex

An Essex-based interior lighting and furniture design start-up and supplier to John Lewis, is targeting a million pound turnover in the next three years after securing funding from Bibby Financial Services.

Based in Chelmsford, i4DZINE was established in July 2012. Paul Carter, a lighting specialist and his business partner Daniel Attenborough a UK designer - both with over twenty years’ experience - spotted a gap in the market to design and sell bespoke furniture, interior lighting and accessories at competitive costs.

Daniel commented: “We knew there was a demand for quality new and original designs. However it’s all very well talking about wanting new and innovative product design, but few people take that leap of faith.”

With an in-house specialist carpenter, and Daniel’s design expertise, i4DZINE manufactures its wooden products in the UK. The business also works with leading European and Asian brand agents, to hand-select and import high quality furniture and lighting design products at competitive prices.

These products are supplied to leading high-street stores, such as John Lewis; interior designers and to the contract market covering hotels and bars throughout the UK.

Paul said: ‘‘We set up i4DZINE in July 2012 but didn’t make our first sale until June 2013. Like many other small businesses, we had to invest our time in launching the business, designing products and simply getting things off the ground.”

However, after this first sale, i4DZINE saw a huge increase in demand.  

Paul explained: “We anticipated our first year would be slow as we thought it would take time to build our reputation as a brand. We didn’t foresee the explosion in growth so when the orders intensified a year later, we simply didn’t have the cashflow flexibility to support this demand.

“Due to the unexpected levels of growth, it was impossible to plan exactly what was required in terms of funding, especially when demand dramatically exceeded our original forecasts”.

To support its rapid expansion, i4DZINE approached business lender Bibby Financial Services.

Paul said: ‘’We pay suppliers by 30 days but our major customers can take around 60 days to make payment, therefore the factoring facility from Bibby Financial Services provides cash in advance to fund our next orders.

“The support has been fantastic and has really taken the pressure off us. Additionally the flexibility of the service allows us to access funding quickly and efficiently when we experience a sudden burst of orders.”

i4DZINE has taken on three apprentices in the last few months and is considering expanding the business further by entering the export market over the coming years.  

Daniel said: “The business is going from strength-to-strength. With our design services, UK manufacture of wooden products and the UK and EU brands we represent, every area of our business is growing.

“We recognise the potential of the export market, but currently we are so busy with growing domestic demand and our work with European brand agents, that it will be a few years away.”

Richard Hill, client manager at Bibby Financial Services, added: “i4DZINE is a fantastic example of a fast growing business which is in a great place to capitalise on the improving economic environment.

“The company demonstrates that when demand is high, if the money isn’t in the bank it can put a business under a great deal of pressure. With differing payment terms and late payments continuing to cause problems for SMEs, fast growth businesses need funding that is both flexible and accessible, such as factoring and invoice discounting.”