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Profile Summer 2009 Newsletter

Funding boost gives adventurous business a new direction

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Pictured (left to right) Stephanie Butterworth one of the founders of Spotty Otter, David Ward, investment manager at SYIF with youngsters Luke Jones and Maddie Gunson modelling the new brand

An innovative Barnsley company that sells specialist kids outdoor gear has successfully expanded its business enterprise thanks to funding from South Yorkshire Investment Fund.

Little Trekkers, a specialist e-commerce retailer of outdoor clothing and equipment for children which was established in 2002, received £50,000 in total from SYIF to help develop a new brand, Spotty Otter.

Over the last six years Little Trekkers has gone from strength-to-strength after founders Stephanie Butterworth and Matthew Jones first identified that the children’s outdoor clothing and equipment market was not covered well by mail order and the internet. They started from home but quickly needed more storage and a showroom and are now based near Penistone just outside Barnsley.

But last year, now with a staff of seven, the business identified a change of direction was needed to ensure continued success. Says Stephanie: “After analysing the market it was clear that there was increasingly more competition and we needed to maintain our uniqueness. It quickly became apparent that developing our own product range, which had the potential to become a brand in its own right, was the way forward. We knew what was missing from our market - high specification children’s outdoor wear - so we developed Spotty Otter to cover this gap.”

Spotty Otter rapidly grew and is now sold across the country but to continue the development of the brand extra funding was required. Added Stephanie: “Previously Little Trekkers had been purely subsidising the growth of Spotty Otter but we wanted them to stand alone as two separate companies so they could both move forward.

“Our bank has always been supportive of Little Trekkers but we are not an asset rich company and had reached the limits on what they could offer us. So, we approached SYIF to provide additional borrowing and support for the ongoing development of Spotty Otter in particular the design, development and manufacture of a lighter weight packable range of waterproofs.”

After meeting with SYIF investment manager, David Ward, it was recognised that funding of £50,000 would be better provided in two instalments of £25,000 – the first in July 2008 to concentrate on the   design and development of the new line and the second amount at the beginning of this year to help with the costs of manufacturing it.

Says Stephanie: “It was a really easy and helpful process dealing with SYIF because they have lots of business expertise. David was able to look at our business requirements not just our financial position and provide a package that really meets the needs of our company.

“Without the SYIF funding we would still have gone ahead with the development of Spotty Otter but I envisage we would have been about two years behind our current position. Having the lightweight range means Spotty Otter has more to offer and isn’t so seasonal – it has opened up our business in a whole new direction.”

David Ward, investment manager at SYIF, said: “Spotty Otter is an exciting brand that has had a very clear business focus from the beginning. We are delighted to have been involved in its recent growth and development and see a really bright future ahead for both Little Trekkers and Spotty Otter.”

SYIF can provide seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

For more information about South Yorkshire Investment Fund, please visit www.syif.com or ring 01709 386377. 

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).