Howard Hunter, the founder of £20m-turnover Coultons Bread, knew what he had to do. He simply picked up the phone and his business was safe.“All it took was one call to my relationship director. I explained we were having a cash-flow problem – he understood the situation right away, and offered a solution to help tide us over,” Hunter explains. Shaun Blake, a relationship director at Santander Corporate Banking, says it’s all about trust: “Businesses do come across tough times. But as a relationship director, your job is to be at the end of the phone and talk them through how the bank can help. I want the customer to concentrate on their business without any headaches.” Hunter’s story has been remarkable. He started the business in 1987, with just one van and a £3,500 loan from his father-in-law. Today, Coultons Bread owns 85 trucks and turns over £20m per year. As well as baking its own goods under the Bakestone brand, Coultons Bread is now the largest bread wholesaler in the North West, delivering bakery goods on behalf of all the major brands. Though Coultons hasn’t suffered too many major cash-flow crises, Hunter wouldn’t worry if the company were to hit a rocky patch. He’s given his business a safety line: an invoice discounting facility from Santander Corporate Banking. “The impact that Santander’s invoice discounting has had on our business has been fantastic. The minute you make a sale, you know the money will be there the next day. But it doesn’t just help with cash flow. It also allows you to negotiate a better deal with your suppliers, who know you will pay them quicker,” says Hunter. The flexibility of invoice discounting is also a key benefit. “With a conventional overdraft, you can be limited by what security you can offer – and on your firm’s historical trading. But when a business is growing, you need cash to support that growth. With invoice discounting, if you do £1m today and £10m next week, your facility grows with it,” says Santander’s Blake. “Cash is king, after all.” At Santander Corporate Banking, we seek to build a successful banking relationship by supporting local businesses as a partner – providing ideas, tailored solutions and long-term value. With Corporate Banking Centres across the UK, you’ll have direct, local access to people who will take the time to get to know your business aspirations and help you to achieve your specific goals. To start building your lasting relationship, call 0207 756 5347, or visit “contact us” here to find your local Corporate Banking Centre.
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