Specialist property stylist improves work flow

Interior Classics (Projects) – ICP for short – was the winner of the Deal of the Year Award. Through the company’s involvement with Trade & Export Finance and its finance specialist UK EXIM Finance Ltd, ICP has been able to accept and progress a continuous stream of new business in the market that it serves.

The ‘Interiors’ in its name helps position the business, which plays an important role in supporting sales of specialised residential property.

Interior styling can make all the difference between a new-build being sold before the paint has dried, and remaining (expensively) on the developer’s books for months. A handful of interior styling companies have carved out a niche for themselves working on the all-important show houses for developers.

Retirement housing requires additional consideration

The market for dedicated retirement homes is an important sub-set of the total property scene; inevitably a growing sector which requires a careful focus on the styling to differentiate the successful sales from the also-rans. First impressions can make or break a sale at a time when prospective buyers may be viewing their purchase as their last move along the property-owning spectrum. It has to be right.

Many of the properties in question are ‘community’ developments with shared facilities such as corridors and lounge areas that are viewed as part of the total ‘package’ on offer. The stylists’ brief therefore extends far beyond the boundary of a single show bedroom or adapted kitchen.

How ICP operate as part of this property ‘supply chain’ is interesting, as it creates a demand for the order finance services provided by companies within the Trade & Export Finance group of companies. It is typically given a date for when its services are required: that can be more than a year from the starting point. Any delays in completing the main build have an impact as it has to commit to beds, sofas, carpets and other furnishings, and have made at least a part payment for them.

Invoice discounting is often a help to companies in this position, but that facility is only able to finance the sale from the point of the job being completed to payment by the developer. There are no similar financial facilities for covering the initial outlay. Traditional bank finance is usually not a possibility as the invoice discounter will have secured its own funding by a charge over the supplier’s assets. Once utilised, that security cannot be applied against other conventional loans to that company.

Funding has enabled stylist to cope with variations in work flow

UK EXIM Finance, an order finance specialist within TAEFL, was able to take a different approach. It has agreed to purchase the furnishings required by ICP. While retaining title to this stock as inherent security, it releases the fabrics and furniture to complete the contract, having first established that the ultimate purchaser (the property developer) has a sufficiently high credit limit and is therefore able to meet its obligations when invoiced.

ICP has been handling an average of four development projects across the UK at a time. With access to the additional working capital provided by UK EXIM Finance, it can take on additional projects and see its business grow.

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