Funding package keeping business on upward trend

Keith Williams (UK Steel Enterprise) Kelwin Heighton (School Trends) David Ward (Finance Yorkshire) and Andy Cocker (Bank of Scotland
Keith Williams (UK Steel Enterprise) Kelwin Heighton (School Trends) David Ward (Finance Yorkshire) and Andy Cocker (Bank of Scotland

As the annual flood of school uniform orders arrives at School Trends, a package of finance including UK Steel Enterprise and Finance Yorkshire is helping ensure the nation’s school uniforms are delivered on time.

The Sheffield-based company embroiders or prints school badges and logos on up to 1.5 million items of schoolwear each year, but the sweatshirts, polo shirts, fleece jumpers, coats, blazers and sportswear all have to be bought in advance, and suppliers have to be paid, hence the help with working capital.

Director Kelwin Heighton said: “We need to finance the period between buying the items of clothing and sale to the schools.

“This takes place over just a few months - between June and October. This year, needing to raise around £600,000, we have gone to UK Steel Enterprise, Bank of Scotland, Finance Yorkshire and Baxi Partnership.”

School Trends currently employs around 130, with 20 of them out on the road visiting many of the 27,000 schools around the country taking orders for their uniforms.

The remainder are based at their Westfield site in Sheffield where school emblems are machine embroidered or printed onto the fabric as required.

Stock is bought from around the world but mainly from recognised garment manufacturers in Europe and Asia. Schools order their own uniforms and School Trends decorate the garments to their requirements.

The company, which was included in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For three years running, is employee-owned following a buy-out by the workforce in 2004. Employees agreed to pay 5% of their salary to buy their shares in the company.

Agreeing the loan for School Trends, UK Steel Enterprise regional manager Keith Williams said: “School Trends is a great example of how an employee owned company can be highly successful. It is a well-managed business we had no hesitation in supporting. Working closely with Andy Cocker of Bank of Scotland and David Ward of Finance Yorkshire, we have been able to provide a package of funding which meets the company’s requirements.”