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hawkins & brimble

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awkins & Brimble, the men’s grooming brand, is kind of a big deal. Not only has it already sold over 350,000 products since its launch in December 2016, totalling something above £1.3m in revenue, but it’s spread its wings to 15 countries across the world. “We’re what they call a mature startup,” describes Stephen Shortt, founder and CEO. Given this has all happened in just over two years, it should be obvious by now Hawkins & Brimble is gunning to soon be the leading global name for natural male grooming. “We’re projecting £2.8m sales in year three with over 3,000 stores globally already,” Shortt adds. However, he admits this wouldn’t be possible without one crucial ingredient. Before launching his startup Shortt spent a decade at Intamarque, the marketing agency, as commercial director. As part of his role, using credit insurance was a no-brainer. “Credit insurance is security obviously,” Shortt says. “It gives us confidence to be able to trade with our distributors and customers globally without worrying about debt.” Indeed, when there’s an increasing number of clients to handle it’s a given at least one will play up with late payments, nonpayments and the likes. In fact, 43% of SMEs experienced late payments across 2018 according to BACS, the automated payment provider. If one of them happens to be for a particularly big sale, you’re in trouble. “When

your invoices and business gets to a certain size then you’re at more risk obviously,” Shortt continues. So when the time came to part ways with Intamarque and launch his male grooming startup, there was one thing Shortt had to get straight from the get-go to ensure there were no boundaries to growth. “I used to use Coface in my last business so I [knew] to do it again,” he says. After hitting up his old contact and one web enquiry later, Hawkins & Brimble was equipped to go anywhere it wanted. “Obviously there’s some contract stuff to do but at the end of the day I think it’s pretty straightforward, quite easy,” he remembers of the process, which also involved putting the details of ideal customers into his provider’s online system. Before even encountering things like late payments for Coface to come in and deal with, Hawkins & Brimble felt the benefits of credit insurance immediately. Armed with the confidence its provider is available if things go South with overseas clients, it’s no wonder the startup’s grown so much so quickly. “We look at more markets further afield if Coface cover them,” Shortt says. “We’re already exporting to different countries.” This isn’t to mention credit insurance effectively serving as a free credit check as another layer of certainty. “If you get the insurance it serves the same purpose,” Shortt explains. With the seemingly endless closures

of high street stores from Debenhams to House of Fraser, these are securities Shortt wouldn’t dream of passing up in this day and age. “It’s unlikely that some [clients] will go bust but you just don’t know with some big retailers nowadays,” he contemplates. Fortunately, he can consider himself not one of them, which is a blessing given his sector’s at a medium credit risk according to research by Coface. “We luckily haven’t been caught,” Shortt says. While credit insurance used to be viewed as a luxury for big names that can afford it, rather than an essential for those starting out, times and prices have certainly changed. “I don’t think in this day and age you [can] do that,” he advises to those ignoring credit insurance. “My advice would be to get a quote because it’ll be possibly lower than [you] have imagined.” Indeed, compared to potential losses from lack of safeguarding in today’s ambiguous times, purchasing credit insurance may soon become the standard for businesses of all shapes and sizes. “If you’re running a successful business and you get a bad debt, that really can take you back months if not years in terms of loss of profitability,” Shortt concludes. “From my perspective, for the cost of doing credit insurance we could lose £100,000 or more if one of our customers goes bust. So it’s a no-brainer really.” CREDIT MEANS CREDIT | COFACE

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Profile for Elite Business Magazine

Coface - Credit means credit  

Coface - Credit means credit