When Charles Swindon set up RJH Trading in 1997, he was refused loans and overdrafts by the banks for three years. Now, with a turnover of £170m, and predicted revenues of £250m in 2008, they are bending over backwards for his business.
It’s a fortunate turnaround. In such a cut-throat market, Swindon relies on bank trade finance to keep his commodities trading firm in the black. “Margins are very tight,” says Swindon. “You need to be extremely disciplined and focused, hedging and off-setting all your risk to preserve profit margins.” Nevertheless, RJH Trading managed to pocket £4.5m last year.
The UK commodities market died alongside the manufacturing industry, so RJH Trading does 98 per cent of its business in international markets, trading everything from ferrous and non-ferrous metals to plastics and scrap. “Most trading houses concentrate on one, maybe two commodities,” says Swindon. “We are unique.”
The 48 year old knows the industry inside out, having cut his teeth in the London Metal Exchange for 13 years. “I got bored,” admits Swindon. “So, at 38, I decided to be an entrepreneur and create my own form of commodities business. And that’s just what I’ve done.”