By Mark Riches, Bibby Financial Services

In 1996 businessman Mickey Phillips saw an opportunity to catch the wave of football fever that was sweeping the nation. The UEFA European Championships were taking place in England, the rise of the Premier League and so-called lads’ mags had all made football prominent again.

He founded Score Draw, making official retro football shirts for supporters and focussed on classics such as the Brazil 1970 World Cup Final shirt worn by Pele.

In need of funding to make the idea into reality he approached the banks to talk about facilities available to help him set up his business, but was not able to secure any form of finance.

However, 16 years later Score Draw turns over £3 million a year, selling 250,000 tops last year and Mickey employs 20 people between his factory in Leicester and distribution warehouse in Cambridgeshire, where his office is based.
The range of products now includes the licences for 12 clubs including top Premier League names such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea and the Scottish Football Association.

The success of the business has been responsible for establishing the fashion for official retro shirts that can be seen at most Premier League and Championship clubs. And the business is also about to move up into the big league of European trade as Score Draw prepares to export to the continent.

Score Draw has been a client of invoice finance specialist Bibby Financial Services for the past five years. By securing cash advances against their blue-chip customer ledger, Score Draw is able to fund all commercial activity and accommodate customer’s settlement terms.

An international trade facility is in place to bridge the ‘funding gap’ between taking orders and being paid, as well as the trade finance support from BFS which helps to fund the purchase of goods necessary to fulfil the orders on the books.

This has allowed Score Draw to supplement UK production capacity with offshore sourcing and secure the dominance of the business in the football heritage marketplace.

From the very beginning Score Draw has been operating without a traditional bank facility and been able to grow by taking a different approach.

The business has enjoyed growth because of the flexibility of facilities such as invoice finance and trade finance which has enabled them to have the funding available to take a creative approach to opening new markets.

As a result they are now in a position where a business that could have fallen at the first hurdle has been able to develop and expand to the point where they are operating across two sites, employing 20 people and enjoying the benefits of international trade.

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