Blink Photo purchases 22,000 sq ft studio
Commercial photography business Blink Photo has purchased its 22,000 sq ft studio as part of a growth programme that has driven a tenfold increase in headcount.Founded in 2006 by husband and wife Steven and Emma Livesey, Blink Photo currently employs 20 people servicing a blue chip client list that includes N Brown Group, Marks and Spencer, and House of Fraser.
The success of the Euxton-based business is largely due to a low-debt approach to financial management that has enabled Emma and Steve to maintain healthy working capital and strong cashflow.“We have steered away from banks and tried to fund the business personally and with help from family,” said Emma. “Any profit we made in the early years was left in the company to build up our cash position and enable us to purchase new equipment. This definitely helped us during the recession when our competitors have struggled.”
As a result of their solid finances, Emma and Steven were able to acquire the studio space at the old Royal Ordinance Factory in Euxton Lane, which they had rented since 2010.Emma continued: “Purchasing our premises was a sound financial investment, but we love the fact that the building is so full of character and there’s nothing else like it in the area. With 22,000 sq ft of space, we have the scope to take on large scale projects, offering clients the unique selling point of leaving their set-up in situ, which reduces set-build costs.”
Emma and Steven have been advised in many areas by chartered accountants and business advisers by Moore and Smalley. “We have been with Moore and Smalley right from the start and have sought their advice on every major business decision, whether financial, dealing with our payroll, staff contracts, group pensions, or tax affairs. Their expert input has been invaluable to us.”James Treadwell, a partner at the firm, commented: “Steven and Emma are great entrepreneurs with a genuine passion and flair for what they do. They have recruited some very talented creative people and this skill set, in tandem with a strong financial position, has driven expansion which I’m confident will continue.”
Steve and Emma started Blink Photo with great self-belief but very little practical experience of running a business. Although their learning curve was steep, it did not prove insurmountable.“Steven had worked in photography studios since he was 17 and I was about to be made redundant from my job at a bank,” said Emma. “Some would say it was a crazy decision, but we were confident in the quality of Steven’s work and our business grew steadily over the years.”
Going forward, Emma and Steven’s main challenge is to expand their client base while maintaining relationships with existing customers and retaining service levels. “There are no contracts awarded in our industry so we must always be at the top of our game,” said Emma. “Ongoing expansion means we need to take on a couple of new people which will give some young individuals the chance to gain experience in this field, while we’ll promote our current photographic assistants to junior photographer roles.”