Reparo Finance, the Oldham-based business lender, has helped CC VFX, designers of moving-media experiences, films, ads and online content, to weather the lockdown. The animation and visual effects company is now celebrating its tenth anniversary with more than £5m of new contracts under negotiation, including discussions with brands in the US and the Middle East.
Known as Cherry Cherry, the London-based business is headed up by Gavin Hay and Dr Carl Grinter. With over 30 years’ experience in the media industry, Gavin is a seasoned entrepreneur and Carl is an expert producer, designer and supervisor, specialising in animation, live action, visual effects and motion graphics. Together, they have built a dedicated team of over 15 including art directors, animators, visual effects specialists and colourists, enabling CC VFX to be involved in every stage of the production lifecycle.
With the streaming revolution booming, the business was presented with promising growth opportunities, and had worked for many household names including Mars, Walkers and Mastercard. However, CC VFX had some historic finance agreements that were putting significant pressure on cash flow and preventing the company from investing in the creative talent it needed to fulfil its vision.
In May 2019, CC VFX started working with business lender Reparo to address these challenges. A loan was arranged that allowed the company to consolidate its debt, free up working capital and give the business the breathing space it needed to kickstart growth. After this consolidation with Reparo, the business was busy investing in talent and negotiating some multi-million pound contracts. Unfortunately, COVID-19 then struck and the film industry shut down and deal flow stalled. CC VFX suffered from lack of support from the government for creative industries and proved ineligible for the rate relief or grants given to SMEs in other sectors.
Gavin explains: “We had no choice but to furlough the team, work with the remaining team remotely and cut costs where possible in order to ride out the storm. Fortunately, Reparo was behind the business all the way, they spoke to me regularly and assured me that they saw this as a temporary problem and still believed in our plans. Practically, they provided a significant reduction in required payments for three months to ease cash flow issues, helping us through the toughest period.”
Commenting on his relationship with Reparo, Gavin continues: “It’s been fantastic. I had lost faith after dealing with ‘computer says no’ traditional lenders who didn’t seem to understand our business or strategic vision and didn’t seem to care whether we succeeded or not. With Reparo, everything felt more human. It wasn’t like talking to a computer – they listened to our story and were incredibly supportive. They looked beyond our cash position and took into account our history and successful track record. Reparo built a strong relationship with us and offered us the right financing at the right time. Without this loan we probably wouldn’t have found a solution to our issues, but now we are well on our way to the growth we always knew we were capable of.”
With production having been able to restart cautiously, CC VFX is now in negotiations for a £5m contract and is working with blue-chip brands on a range of projects. The hard work done pre-pandemic has positioned the firm as a key market leader for brands worldwide that want to bring ambitious concepts to life.
Jason Cossey, relationship manager for Reparo, comments: “I could see straight away that Gavin was an entrepreneur with a great track record. Although media is an unpredictable industry, there was clear evidence of a business on an upwards trajectory that had the right value proposition. They just needed to restructure some debt to help them on that trajectory, and we were happy to provide the capital they needed.
“With the pandemic causing widespread business disruption across so many industries, one thing that lockdown taught us was that television and content are now more important to audiences than ever before. We are proud to have helped CC VFX navigate its way through this extremely difficult period and believe the future looks bright for the business.”
Reparo Finance Group provides flexible loans of between £20k and £1m with loan terms of between three months and five years. Focussing solely on the SME market, the firm offers secured and unsecured lending based on rapid assessment of businesses by its expert team of relationship managers.