The Ivory Wardrobe
The Ivory Wardrobe is an independent wedding boutique located in Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire. The business has been established for 30 years with the current business owner, Laura Buckingham-Brown, having taken it over in 2010.
Laura rebranded the company as The Ivory Wardrobe, and undertook an extensive refurbishment to create a stylish showroom and dressing room for brides to be. She stocks over 100 sample wedding gowns from designers including Maggie Sottero and Mori Lee, both internationally recognised bridal designers and manufacturers. The boutique also stocks over 100 bridesmaids’ dresses in 60 different colours, as well as veils, tiaras and shoes and an in-house alteration service. Dresses range in price from £750 to £1750, with the average being around £1200.
Business is good – after years in decline, more people are now getting married – and Laura has seen income rise year on year since she bought the boutique. As well as working in the business herself, she employs one full time member of staff and five part-timers.
Although her gowns are custom ordered, the purchasing process within the wedding retail sector creates significant cash flow challenges.
Laura buys her sample dresses twice a year in March and September once she’s met with suppliers and attended the leading wedding fairs to see what’s on trend. Her suppliers require payment on delivery, which means that Laura has two significant cash outlays a year of between £5-10,000 to ensure she has the seasonal sample ranges her customers expect.
With the lead time on dresses, from order to delivery, ranging from four to six months, Laura takes a 50% deposit. She pays her suppliers on delivery with the final balance from the bride due within 30 days. Payments in and out should synchronise, but they rarely do.
To fund her stock, Laura initially approached her bank for a loan and whilst she was successful in her application, she found the monthly repayment rate crippling and was reluctant to do it a second time. She started to put money aside each month instead, but found it got used up for other expenses in the business.
Struggling for cash flow to pay for the necessary stock she approached Liberis for a Business Cash Advance. Her first advance was for £15,000 in December 2014, and her second for £15,000 in June 2015.
Laura explains, “it’s crucial that we have new dress samples twice a year so we’re offering the very latest designs, but finding such large sums of money in one go is very difficult. I really struggled before I found Liberis.
“The initial set up for the first advance was straightforward and it took just a phone call for the second one. I paid my first advance off in six months and just repeated it when I needed my next lot of stock. It’s such an efficient and easy form of funding and I don’t really notice the pay back as it comes off at source through my Worldpay card machine. It works really well for the business and makes it easier to budget and manage cash flow. The pay back terms are brilliant because if I have a quieter month, I don’t have to pay as much back.”