Investment Opportunity

And Albert prospectus and fundraising document

Our initial round of fundraising has now ended and we are pleased to announce that it looks as though we have reached our minimum target. Thank you to everyone who has pledged to support us. We will be keeping opportunities open to those who are still interested in investing.

"Chester’s history in the fair trade movement is a source of great pride. Officially we are considered to be the world’s first Fair Trade City and this achievement is testament to the hard work of a committed group of local residents. At a local level they have changed the purchasing habits of their friends and neighbours, and inspired local restaurants to make a change in their supply chain. Shops like “And Albert” don’t just support this ethos, they actively promote it and between them, this group of people are a constant reminder that we all have the potential to make a difference if we put our mind to it."
Chris Matheson MP Chester

Summary

And Albert is both a shop and on-line retailer. We are always open to people or organisations willing to invest in key product lines, fixtures and fittings and provide working capital. The following document outlines the background and the thinking behind our fundraising efforts and how this investment will secure the future of this remarkable store, its vision and unique range of ethical and fairly-traded products.

About us

We opened our Chester shop 22 years ago to support the extraordinary creativity of craftspeople across the developing world. We are now an established fair-trade gift and interiors business and trade on two floors covering 2,000 square feet. Based in the centre of historic Chester, we are well known for our originality and exceptional range of products supporting local craftsman from over 30 different countries across four continents.

And Albert sells Furnishings, Rugs, Furniture, Lighting, and Jewellery. Nearly all the products we sell are handmade using traditional craft skills, locally available resources or recycled materials.

As well as running the shop, And Albert staff have long experience of working overseas buying from local craftspeople and village communities both in Africa, and Asia as well as setting up craft projects and businesses. Locally, the shop plays an important role, especially in education. On average the shop will run 25-30 school events a year throughout Cheshire providing assemblies and workshops as well as products for events and summer fairs. Over the last 10 years we have spoken to over 30,000 school children.

Our vision

Our vision is to bring the people and communities we trade with, their products, stories and traditions together into one shop and for that story to be told through our customers, our work in schools and through the community events we attend. It is through this process we can bring the villages and their people into a direct and supportive relationship with our partners at home whether customers, schools or churches. The importance of making products in traditional ways in village life in order for that community to earn a living or provide additional money is a key way in which traditional ways of life of life can help sustain communities economically. It is our aim to bring this integrated vision and approach to the way we do business.

The video below gives more information.

And Albert video link

What we want to achieve

Recognising that the retail market is changing rapidly, our aim is to transform our shop into one that reflects our multi-channel approach to selling both our products and services. We are committed to growing and developing our business through the shop, our own website and other on-line platforms such as eBay and Amazon but also through our educational work.

Retail sales through our Chester shop and on-line sales

Despite the challenges faced by the UK retail market, Chester remains one of the UK’s premier tourist destinations. Based in the heart of the city, half of our business is now accounted for through sales to both UK and foreign tourists. To reflect this, we are looking to upgrade the shop both in terms the fixtures and fittings and products sold. At the same time, we are now rapidly developing our capacity as a multi-channel on line retailer.

With regard to our product range, there has been strong growth in sales of innovative ethically sourced products, especially recycled and reusable non-plastic products. It is no coincidence that our best-selling products have been our range of reusable bamboo coffee mugs, bamboo socks and recycled aluminium tableware. Furthermore, working in tandem with key suppliers we have achieved excellent sales of higher priced interiors products such as ethically sourced Kilim rugs, home furnishings and teak root furniture. We are now looking to expand our offer in these ranges by investing in key stock lines to meet both demand through the shop but especially on-line. Our on-line sales have grown from 1% to 15% of sales in 12 months (May 2017 - May 2018).

We have been successful in integrating the sales through our physical shop with our on-line sales. This means new stock can be photographed, displayed and be on sale both in the physical shop and on-line within a few hours. All packing and post work can also be achieved in the shop maximising our use of staff time and physical space. We can now ship all our products within 24 hours of order. As a result of these changes we believe we are in an excellent position to grow and develop both our retail and on-line business. In addition, we have outstanding long-term relationships with our three key suppliers which allow us to buy our products at the best prices.

Our key challenge

We have arrested the loss of turnover we experienced as a result of rapid changes to the retail market, pressure on disposable incomes etc in the period 2010-2013 and sales have remained steady for the last four years at around £110,000. However, this has been a loss-making position and because of this we have continued to experience pressure on cash flow. As a result, we have been unable to generate the necessary cash to invest in new and best-selling product lines to raise turnover, especially in the last year when sales fell to £103,000. We are currently addressing our cost position seeing a rent reduction from £15,000 to £12,000 per annum in 2016/17, gaining 100% rates relief from 2017 (saving £5,500 per annum) and looking to reduce staff costs in 2018/19 by up to £6,000 through volunteer working and fewer casual hours. We see the key to improving sales as investing in stock which can be sold both in the shop and through our developing on-line business.

What we would like to do

As a result of the opportunities we have created for sales growth through on-line sales, the measures we have taken to reduce costs and the new product opportunities, we believe And Albert can not only survive but grow. Up to the present time we have supported the shop both in terms of time commitment and financially, but we would now like to find individuals and friends who are inspired and excited by our work and vision to join us in partnership to help secure the future of And Albert and take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented.

Our current situation

While we do not have any major commercial borrowing, we have a £5,000 overdraft and £5,000 business loan. There is also some historic VAT debt, Rent Arrears and money owed to suppliers but currently we have agreements in place to pay these. They are factored into our Cash flow forecast. On the asset side we have stock to the value of £25,000. We are also in the process of bringing in volunteers to help run the shop. This will reduce staffing costs by around £10,000 per annum and allow experienced staff members to invest more time in developing our on-line capacities. We see this as an important aspect of our business plan.

Our aim

To achieve our financial aim, we are seeking

a) Short term 5-year loans with a 5% return of £1,000, £2,000 and £5,000. Repayments will be payable in 5 parts annually on 31st December. A loan agreement will be signed by both parties and issued for each loan. A sample loan agreement is available to be viewed and considered.

b) Sale of equity We would be happy to consider the sale of equity if an investor was interested in forming a long-term partnership with us either as a business angel or long-term investor. Here we would look to pay dividends once we are achieving a 10% net profit. We would be looking for a minimum investment of £10,000.

If you are interested in providing equity or a loan, please email us on sales@andalbert.com or call the shop on 01244 345845.

c) Donations with Rewards

  • And Albert Gold Member Reward Card £500. Receives 15 % Discount card for multiple use over three years
  • And Albert Silver Member Reward Card £250. Receives 15% Discount Card for use 3 times a year over two years
  • And Albert Bronze Member Reward Card £100 Receives 15% Discount Card for use three times in one year

Business structure

And Albert trades as limited company And Albert Fair Trading Ltd (Company Number 07514371).

And Albert is a member of the British Association of Fairtrade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS). We sell products from around 30 less-developed countries. Over 90% of the product range is handmade applying traditional craft skills.

Financial figures and business plan

For those interested in providing equity, a loan or donation the following financial information is available upon request by completing the expression of interest form.

  1. Full Accounts for the years 2015/16 and 2016/17.
  2. Management Accounts for the year 2017/18, Historical sales figures up to May 2018 and a three-year cash flow forecast and forecast profit and loss for 2018, 2019 and 2020.
  3. Our full business plan providing historical, personnel and market information.

Risk

While we will endeavour to ensure the success of And Albert this is a business venture, albeit an ethical one, in a highly competitive market. Any sale of equity or loan provided is not free from risk of business failure or default. We would advise that an amount large enough to risk the financial health of the lender should not be considered in our case. If you are in doubt, then please consult with an accountant or financial advisor.


Below are various documents relating to the investment opportunity that you can download: