Many people assume that a growing business is easy to run. But expansion brings challenges of its own, as Craig Proctor can testify. He’s Managing Director of Inerto, a Blackpool-based provider of logistics and waste placement for over 60 waste transfer stations, local authorities and demolition contractors throughout the UK.
It’s grown quickly over the past few years, even branching into providing finance solutions tailored to the sector. “Our knowledge of the waste industry and infrastructure allow us to provide waste disposal solutions which are not just cost efficient, but also environmentally friendly,” explains Craig. “Many of our outlets offer ‘zero to landfill’, through the incineration or recycling of materials.”
But growing businesses need to open up space to succeed – and that demands finance, especially in a relatively capital-intensive business such as waste handling, where ongoing investment is a must to keep on top of regulations and shifting customer demand. By December 2019, the company was getting concerned that its existing finance partner lacked the track record and industry knowledge to support their ongoing growth.
Craig and his team were wondering how they could take their finance relationship to the next level, when they got an introduction from another recycling business who referred them to ABN AMRO Commercial Finance.
Because we know the sector, we were able to look at Inerto’s business in the round. We understand what’s driving the market – like that zero-landfill requirement for local authorities, for example, which means waste firms prefer to deal with companies that have the right site certifications – and we can put together a financial package that matches a business’s unique needs. We always aim to be a financial wingman for our clients – which mean moving at their speed and supporting their growth ambitions.
Inerto’s business model also fed into ABN AMRO’s commitment to supporting companies with a clear sustainability agenda. We provide a broad range of flexible funding solutions which can support a shift to sustainability by developing and cementing circular business models, including waste recycling, like Inerto, or using renewables or improving the long-term environmental impact of products or services.
Our priority for Inerto was creating as much working capital as possible to create room for growth – and to secure the favourable fees offered by recycling plants for early settlement of invoices.
One of Inerto’s USPs is that they pay their suppliers daily or next day. They can do that because of the funding ABN AMRO provided. It also allows them to offer much more accessible terms to customers, so they have the opportunity to grow working relationships.
That was made possible with a £1.5m invoice finance package that flexes with sales growth. But we also helped arrange a 5% top-up using the Enterprise Finance Guarantee from the British Business Bank.
Then, of course, Covid-19 hit. Craig was confident in the robustness of the business’s model and its financial standing. When the government created the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Craig saw an opportunity to secure additional peace of mind and guard against any potential downturn in sales during this period with a £144,000 loan (with no upfront costs and lower initial repayments) to cover any eventuality.
“I’ve arranged factoring with three different companies over a period of time now, and ABN AMRO was by far the simplest process – always straightforward and answerable,” says Craig. “It’s allowed the business to expand, even during the crisis.” In fact, waste handling has been one of the critical sectors that have seen strong demand through the pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, Inerto saw a 30% increase in profits.
“The CBILS loan has offered us security and peace of mind,” says Craig. “More than anything else it removed the anxiety we felt in March – no-one knew what to expect then, so it was great to be able to ease those worries. As far as the ongoing growth of the business is concerned, we see ABN AMRO as a key partner.”
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