Historic Norwich business on route to success after bank and HMV woes

Quantum Industries managing director Toni Manning at the Diamond Road, Norwich factory.PHOTO BY SIMO

Quantum Industries managing director Toni Manning at the Diamond Road, Norwich factory.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A Norfolk firm has completed a remarkable turnaround after the collapse of a major high street retailer left it starved of finance.

Norwich-based Quantum Industries was stung by a £100,000 bad debt in January when its biggest client, HMV, fell into administration.

But now the 100-year-old company, which designs and manufactures retail interiors, is on a firmer financial footing and on a course to clear its shortfall after a last minute finance deal gave it a new lease of life.

The news is in marked contrast to when the business was pushed to the brink of collapse earlier this year when bankers at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) enforced a stringent debt reduction plan, which stripped it of the funds it needed to trade.

Bosses were left with the decision to make 18 staff redundant and were advised by the bank to speak to insolvency practitioners.

But the company, headed by managing director Toni Manning, was given a huge boost of confidence when it sought independent advice that led to a fresh finance deal with Skipton Business Finance – brokered by EDP Future 50 firm Anglia Finance – which allowed it to re-employ eight staff and continue to chase deals with long-term clients Next and Laura Ashley.

The resurgence of the company comes amid a continued push from the government to create alternative sources of finance for businesses, including its flagship Business Bank, which received a £300m cash-injection last week.

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A spokesman for RBS said the bank had looked at ways to inject cash into the business to help it in the short term – as well as advising it speak to an insolvency practitioner.

She said: 'Recently, Ms Manning's relationship manager at RBS Invoice Finance, met with her to discuss a way forward.

'A number of points were discussed and we looked at various ways to inject cash into the business to help in the short term.

'We asked for detailed accountant-prepared financial details along with full details of creditors and debtors so that we could assess what support we could feasibly provide.

'We also discussed the option of seeking advice from an insolvency practitioner.'

But Ms Manning said the business would still be struggling with the bank if she had not received support from Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Anglia Finance, which helped her secure the new finance deal.

She said: 'I didn't know where to go for help. I would still be struggling with RBS if I had not been given direction from Liam at Anglia Finance.

'And I keep thinking that there must be other business out there that are closing down because they simply do not know the options open to them...

'Since we started with RBS nine years ago we have paid more than £500,000 in interest charges and had a £10,000 overdraft that we never touched.

'But the first time we were in trouble they closed the doors on us.

'When things were going great, RBS were great, but they put every obstacle possible in our path when things went wrong, which was shame because when it was going well I couldn't fault them.'

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