Month: April 2014

Farmers Weekly Awards

Join the growing gallery of stars and nominate someone, or enter yourself for the 2014 Farmers Weekly Awards! The awards recognise and reward farmers for innovation, commitment to the industry and hard work.

Are you one of our finest farmers? Or do you know someone who deserves to be recognised for their innovations and achievements. The 2014  Farmers Weekly Awards marks a decade in which British Farming was finally recognised as an industry to be reckoned with for the future, as well as a crucial part of the nation’s history.  Nominate someone today or enter yourself and become an integral part of British heritage and get the recognition you deserve for your hard work. You can have a look at the gallery of men and women who been honoured as finalists, and winners over the past 10 years.

There are 15 award categories available to entre, plus a Farming Champion Award, from these categories an overall Farmer of the Year is also selected. These are selected by the NFU and Farmers Weekly.

There are two new categories, these are Farm Employer of the Year and Sustainable Farmer of the Year. Both of which are very relevant in today’s economy with jobs few and far between and the environmental issues the globe faces today.

Farm Employer of the Year reflects the professional approach that farming businesses now employ to secure skilled employees, efficient production and strong customer/buyer relationships. There’s no doubt this is at the heart of attracting the brightest and best in the industry. A well trained and ambitious team are at the heart of every success story – farming businesses are no exception.

Sustainable Farmer of the Year showcases what so many farming businesses are now doing to protect precious natural resources, nurture wildlife and minimise the impact of farming production methods of the countryside. This is becoming increasingly important today and will only continue to grow in importance in the future. The Farmers Weekly Awards are looking for people who are embracing fully integrated methods of production and green energy in order to deliver a business that is fully sustainable.

Reasons To Enter

  • Recognition for you, your family and team
  • Opens doors to new industry contacts, clients and suppliers
  • Valuable PR and marketing for your business
  • Greater business confidence and negotiating power
  • The chance to experience the best night out in farming!

Lord Robert Newborough, 2013 Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year and Diversification Farmer of the Year

“Winning the 2013 Farmers Weekly has been very positive for the business. It has opened doors which would not have been so easy to do before and strengthened our brand nationally.

We had record Christmas sales here and overseas with new markets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and shortly Muskat.

We have co-branded products with Plum baby foods – all new packaging includes the Rhug brand. We have also worked with Isuzu, Subaru and Plum Baby on joint competitions, which has generated thousands of responses.

The Rhug Estate restaurant also received Michelin recognition in its 2014 guide. The PR coverage of `Colditz’ the story of the turkey that escaped the `royal platter’ has also helped boost our brand recognition.”

Asset Finance and Refinance

Asset Finance

Asset Financing is more flexible than a business loan because it has tax and cash flow benefits for your business. Asset Finance is a loan that is used to obtain equipment for your business.

When companies invest in tangible assets, anything from office equipment to manufacturing plants, cars to aircraft, they usually need a secure means of finance.

This makes Asset Finance is the third most common source of finance for businesses, after bank overdrafts and loans. It is a flexible alternative to a traditional bank loan, providing significant cash flow and tax benefits for businesses looking to purchase a new piece of equipment, a vehicle or other fixed assets.

With many years of experience, Richmond Asset Finance Ltd can help you to gain the important assets for your business to succeed.

Benefits of Asset Finance:

  • A valuable alternative to conventional bank loans
  • Secure for the user, as the finance cannot be recalled during the life of the agreement
  • Sustainable because businesses have the option to replace or update equipment at the end of the lease period.
  • Widely available through a network of around 5,000 equipment dealers and 400 brokers, as well as direct from finance companies.

Listed below are a small example of individual assets, there are many more that we can provide finance for. We can place many more, even if bespoke and transactions are always considered on their individual merits. Deposits, Period & Rates of Interest depend upon the strength of the proposal.

Assets Considered:

  • Commercial Vehicles / Trailers
  • Agricultural Machinery & Tractors
  • Coaches & Buses
  • Vans & Cars
  • Contractors Plant
  • Engineering Equipment
  • Print & Print Finishing Equipment
  • Packaging & Labelling Machines
  • Woodworking & Plastic Injection

Asset Refinance

Richmond Asset Finance Limited can fund most type of individual asset refinance packages. It boosts a business’ cash flow by releasing cash against the value of a company’s existing assets. You therefore sell an asset to the leasing company for the current value, which then leases it back to you. Additionally, asset refinance also protects the business from asset depreciation.

Refinancing may be required to fund a deposit on a larger purchase or purely raising additional capital for cash flow purposes on a Non Status basis. Limited Companies, Partnerships or Sole Trader, whatever the case, we can help! We can provide asset refinance in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Static or moveable plant, whether new or up-to 20 years old. Our refinancing solution enables you to boost your cash flow by releasing cash against the value of your existing assets. Our experienced asset finance specialists will work with you to get the most from your refinancing facility.

Benefits of Asset Refinance:

  • Provides access to working capital that’s otherwise tied up on the business’ balance sheet
  • The cash that asset refinance generates can be reinvested into further asset growth
  • Protects your company from asset depreciation

Assets considered:

  • Commercial Vehicles / Trailers List
  • Agricultural Machinery & Tractors
  • Coaches & Buses
  • Vans & Cars
  • Contractors Plant
  • Engineering Equipment
  • Print & Print Finishing Equipment
  • Packaging & Labelling Machines
  • Woodworking & Plastic Injection

The above list is not comprehensive, even if the asset is bespoke, we may still be able to help. All deals considered from £15,000 – £5,000,000. Most transactions are typically Hire Purchase or Finance Lease, with periods being between 12 – 60 months. All transactions are considered on individual merits. Lenders will take a view on CCJ’s, Defaults and Phoenix Companies.

Fix your cashflow with invoice finance

Two thirds of businesses have waited more than 90 days for an invoice to be settled in the last six months.

This is according to new a new survey from Sage, which also found that 45 per cent of respondents think big businesses are the worst culprits for late payment.

Late payment is a growing problem for businesses across the country. For some firms a single late payment can have a dramatic impact on cashflow, and business owners are increasingly on the lookout for ways to mitigate these problems. Invoice finance, a popular alternative funding method, may be able to help you do just that.

What is invoice finance?

Invoice finance allows you to unlock the value of your unpaid invoices. In an invoice finance arrangement you borrow against the value of those invoices, and the lender gets paid when the invoices are settled. First, you raise an invoice as normal. Then, you pass that invoice on to an invoice finance company such as Aldermore. They pay you the face value of the invoice, less an administrative fee. Depending on the type of invoice finance arrangement you are using, you then either chase the invoice yourself, or the invoice finance company does this for you.

Can I use invoice finance with the occasional invoice?

Often, invoice finance companies require you to commit to putting all or a proportion of your invoices through the invoice finance process. Many small businesses are, quite rightly, reticent to enter into long-term contracts. However, this problem is addressed by spot factoring, also known as single invoice factoring. Under a spot factoring arrangement you can choose to ‘sell’ invoices one at a time, or in small batches. This means you can get the cash when you most need it.

What are the advantages of invoice finance?

Invoice finance has a range of important advantages. The first of these clearly concerns cashflow. Late payment is a major problem amongst UK businesses, and invoice ageing remains one of the key pressures on cashflow. Invoice finance helps you to circumvent those pressures, by providing you with the cash you are owed very quickly – in fact, it is common for businesses to receive the money within as little as 24 hours.

The second advantage is flexibility. In an invoice finance arrangement you borrow against the value of your sales, and your credit lines therefore expand with your business. Some business owners prefer invoice finance to bank loans for exactly this reason: you are only borrowing what you are earning, and it is therefore very difficult to take on more debt than you can afford. Similarly, invoice finance can be more affordable than other forms of short-term finance. Many providers will offer as much as 95 per cent of the invoice’s face value.

Finally, it is also worth noting that invoice finance does not generally require a credit check. This has made this an increasingly popular option for businesses that cannot secure bank funding, either because they are so new that they do not yet have a credit history, or because their existing history is not quite up to scratch.

Factoring vs Invoice Discounting

Factoring vs Invoice Discounting – which works for your small business?

Invoice finance is a powerful means by which small and growing businesses can take control of the value locked up in unpaid invoices. This set of techniques can be split into two: factoring, and invoice discounting. But how do they differ, and how can they help your business?

What is invoice finance?

Invoice finance refers to a set of techniques that allow you to borrow against the value of your unpaid invoices. In an invoice finance arrangement you raise an invoice as normal, and then you pass it on to a third party invoice finance company such as Aldermore. That company then pays you a proportion of the face value of the invoice. When the invoice gets paid, the invoice finance company gets paid too.

What’s the difference between factoring and invoice discounting?

Invoice finance can be split into two categories: factoring and invoice discounting. Each of these two techniques will suit businesses in different circumstances and, perhaps, at different stages in their development.

In a factoring arrangement, you pass responsibility for collecting the debt from your client onto the third party company, which in this case may be referred to as a factor. There are several potential advantages to this arrangement. Perhaps most important of these is that you will no longer have to assume the resource burden of chasing invoices. This can be a time consuming process, and freeing yourself from it can enable you to concentrate instead on running your business.

In an invoice discounting arrangement, meanwhile, you retain control of this process. Clearly, you do not enjoy the potential time benefits associated with factoring – but, crucially, in an invoice discounting arrangement, your clients need never know that you are using invoice finance. They will settle their invoices in the normal way, and they will never have to deal with a factor. This level of discretion can be a major benefit for many businesses.

Do I have to make a long-term commitment?

Traditionally, some small and growing businesses have been put off factoring and invoice discounting because the invoice discounting company has required that they put all or a large proportion of their invoices through the system. Indeed, this is still true in many cases, and while this suits some businesses, it is impractical or unnecessary for others. In these situations, you might wish to consider spot factoring. In these arrangements you can put just one or a small ‘bundle’ of invoices through the finance process, giving you the flexibility you need.

What are the alternatives?

Invoice finance can be a highly effective means by which you can sustain and grow your business, as we explored last week in this article on invoice finance and cashflow. However, it is important to understand that it’s not the only means by which you might choose to finance your business. For more options, read our finance guide for small business.

Graphene: Invest with care for a long-term return

It’s the stuff of dreams… and scams. But Graphene may provide opportunities for patient investors

ANYONE doubting that Manchester is still a cutting-edge industrial city, at least in terms of its intellectual capital, need only consider graphene. In less than a decade since it was isolated by two scientists at the university, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, this supposed wonder-material has stormed the world, winning them the Nobel prize for physics and prompting an explosion of inventive activity. At the last count, nearly 10,000 patents or patent applications have been filed globally.

Given the remarkable properties claimed for graphene – which derives from graphite and is comprised of a single layer of carbon atoms – that’s hardly surprising. The thinnest material yet created, it is ultra-light, fantastically heat conductive and tougher than steel. Yet it is also transparent and as malleable as rubber. Proponents argue it could revolutionise everything from electronics and drug delivery to food packaging and manufacturing – especially if it puts industrial 3D printing on the map. Unbreakable, foldable, touchscreens for mobile phones are just one application in the pipeline.

There are even claims that graphene could pep up love lives. Another team at Manchester is working on combining it with latex to create a stronger, thinner “more pleasurable” condom. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is so excited about the potential of this super-johnny that it has donated $20m to the project – on grounds that if more people are persuaded to use one, it could prove a significant weapon against HIV.

If the hype around graphene has been building of late, so has the financial froth. In January, the UK Financial Conduct Authority warned that boiler-room scammers had zoned in on it as an easily exploitable new niche – in the same mould as previous dodgy investments like rare earth metals and carbon credits. Indeed, as far as your average ruthless conman is concerned, graphene is in a sweet spot. Many people have vaguely heard of its super-qualities, but they don’t know it could be years before products actually hit the market. What’s more, the regulator warns, prices are “expected to fall in coming years”.

That’s true enough. Graphene is still in its research phase and production remains limited. But as more plants come online, prices will certainly fall. And there’s every sign that China – which currently leads the patent race – is gearing up for a big industrial push. The same is true in the US and South Korea and even the dozy EU has launched a €1bn research programme.

The FCA says it has yet to see any “convincing” evidence there’s a viable market for retail investors to make money. But just because graphene comes with big caveats doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities beyond those dangled by cold-calling cowboys, who are best avoided whatever they’re peddling.

Indeed, had you backed Allied Graphene Materials – a home-grown player, spun out of Durham University – when it floated in November, you’d now be sitting on a cash-wad considerably thicker than a single layer of atoms. Shares are up more than 200 per cent from their 155p launch price. Investors are punting that AGM, which manufactures high purity, top quality graphene, is a potential national champion.

Market appetites will be tested again later this month when another graphene specialist, Haydale, debuts on Aim. Instead of making graphene, Haydale finds ways to use it which, theoretically at least, should make shares less vulnerable to price drops.

Another company with a similar remit is Cientifica, already listed on Aim, which plans to invest in early-stage graphene users and has identified several markets it thinks could be winners , including energy storage, heating, and filtration technologies

As David Thornton, who follows the market for Moneyweek, points out, early stage investments linked to exciting new technologies are always risky. But they tend to go in three phases. In the first, “investors dream of seemingly limitless upside potential”. In the second “cold light of day” phase, “the market ponders the problems of commercialising the technology” and stocks often fall back. In the third, companies start making money, shares rebound and perhaps overtake their previous peaks. “If you bide your time and pick up shares in the neglected second phase, it’s possible to find bargains.”

We’re not there yet with graphene, but this is certainly a potentially blockbuster market to monitor, if you can steer through the hype and are prepared to be patient.