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Case Study: School Trends Ltd

Published: March 2006

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Tony Goulbourn Chief Executive of SYIF with Peter Beeby, Chief Executive of Schools Trends Ltd.

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Tony Goulbourn and Peter Beeby.

The Company

School Trends has become a market leader in providing school uniforms for Primary and Secondary schools across the country.

The company, based at Westfield Business Area, began more than 15 years ago supplying a tailored school uniform service, providing a range of clothes with appropriate school logo’s.

The Challenge

School Trends quickly began to enjoy a rapid growth. However, despite its success and continued profit making, it reached a point where the company was looking for new products to sell into its customer base.

In an effort to improve growth, the directors at School Trends identified an opportunity to enter into website provision for the education sector.

Kelwin Heighton, Finance Director at Schools Trends said: "Most schools developed a website in the first wave of the internet revolution. However, a number of them are now disappointed with the functionality of their sites."

The Solution

School Trends has completed a £1.5m purchase of Birmingham based Blue Spheres Limited, with assistance of a £100,000 loan from South Yorkshire Investment Fund.

The acquisition enabled School Trends to sell the blue spheres product in developing websites to its current customer base of more than 6,000 schools.

Kelwin said: “We feel the company can benefit by adding this new division to the company. School Trends will now be able to offer new products and services to the education sector.

"We will be able to utilise the expertise of Blue Spheres to provide modern websites for both Primary and Secondary schools. It will also provide an opportunity to expand our initiative to sell uniforms online."

Progress to Date

Schools Trends offers two website products for Primary and Secondary schools.

Create (Primary) is a simple, easy to manage and template driven website, while Create (Secondary) provides a more complex website, to satisfy the requirements of larger organisations. Both are designed with a telephone and email support, software repairs and on-going site maintenance.

Schools Trend’s turnover is now expected to rise to by another £1.9m by the end of 2007.

Tony Goulbourn, Chief Executive for South Yorkshire Investment Fund, said: "Schools Trends has established itself as a key player in the school uniform market and this acquisition provides them with the potential to increase business in a new sector."

Editor's Notes

About South Yorkshire Investment Fund

South Yorkshire Investment Fund  provided seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15k to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

Created as part of the Objective 1 programme, the Fund is a private and public sector business finance provider. The European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward are investors in the Fund.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provided access to Business Angel investments from the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels and Microloans through BiG Business Loan Fund and Donbac Microloan Fund.

Finance Yorkshire has now taken on responsibility for providing gap finance in Yorkshire and the Humber.

For further details please contact Suzanne Tinkler,  on 0845 649 0000.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd is a company limited by guarantee (Registered No 3936065). South Yorkshire Investment Fund comprises three sub funds, the South Yorkshire Investment Capital Fund, the South Yorkshire Investment Development Fund, which are each managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, and the South Yorkshire Investment Small Business Fund, which is managed by Finance South Yorkshire Ltd. YFM Venture Finance Limited (Tel 0113 294 5000) and Finance South Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 01709 386 377) are each authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provides a number of services, which are not regulated by The Financial Services Authority. These include the pilot Seedcorn Fund, BiG Business Loan Fund, Mentorbank and access to the Donbac Microloan Fund. BiG Business Loan Fund is managed by Donbac Ltd (company registration No. 01925556) and Key Fund Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 0114 242 8900).