Bank funding supports growth

Ramsay supplier now fishing for London trade

Magnus and Fiona HoustonA Highlands fish and seafood supplier, which counts Gordon Ramsay among its customers, is expanding online and in the London market.

Coast and Glen has seen turnover rise sharply from £690,000 in 2015 to £1.1 million in 2016 and says this was helped by a £27,000 working capital overdraft from HSBC.

This enabled founder Magnus Houston establish a foothold in the lucrative London market over the past two years with customers which now include Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Wright Brothers’ restaurants.

Before working with HSBC, Coast and Glen was limited to revenue streams determined by credit agreements making expansion outside of the Highlands and Islands almost impossible.

The overdraft also supported Coast and Glen’s desire to meet the growing demand for high-quality freshly caught fish through a subscription service delivering directly to consumers by post.

Spikes in sales required Coast and Glen to purchase packaging materials to fulfil last minute demand, but the flexibility of the funding allowed for this and helped secure a rapidly growing customer base. Sales grew by 55% in the last year, with an average of four new subscribers per day.

Mr Houston started the business when he bought a small boat in 2011 during a fishing trip. He began as a wholesaler of locally and sustainably sourced seafood from the Highlands. The business now supplies over 200 hotels and restaurants in Scotland and London.

He said: “Before partnering with HSBC, we would never have been able to supply outside of the Highlands and Islands in the same timeframe.

“Now, thanks to the flexibility of finance we provide quality fish to the likes of Gordon Ramsay as well as our subscribed customers. HSBC understood our long-term goals of supplying down south but also that we might need to bulk buy stock at a moment’s notice, and they provided us the finance to do both.”

The finance from HSBC was allocated from the bank’s national £10 billion SME fund to actively support UK SMEs, with £450m designated to support Scottish firms and rebalance the economy outside London.

Susan Rowand, head of business banking at HSBC in Scotland, said: “Coast and Glen wanted to expand quickly but couldn’t rely solely on revenue streams determined by credit agreements to do this. The business demonstrated true entrepreneurialism in identifying and capitalising on individual consumer demand for fresh fish and seafood. We were more than happy to support this development of their business including their evolving financial needs.”

Photo: Magnus and Fiona Houston 

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