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Wesleyan Bank and Bluestone Leasing help visual effects company

Wesleyan Bank and Bluestone Leasing help visual effects company

The company

Outpost creates stunning visual effects for film, high-end TV and creative projects. Founded by acclaimed VFX Supervisor Duncan McWilliam, the company is attracting worldwide interest and boasts an enviable client list with their work screening on Amazon, Netflix, HBO and featuring in major and independent movies.

The challenge

Formed in 2012, Outpost has enjoyed a meteoric rise with revenues doubling annually. The company has expanded from one person and a laptop to a 150-seat studio as its reputation has spread amongst film, broadcast and advertising producers.

"We employed approximately 25 artists, but our pipeline of work is growing so significantly that we need to rapidly increase the size of our premises," explains Michael Bateman, Finance Director at Outpost VFX.

"Our ambitious strategy means we needed greater office capacity to hire new creative staff plus building our technology team and IT infrastructure to support our increased UK capacity and new office in Montreal. Expansion globally places greater demand on our technical platforms with VFX having heavy rendering and storage requirements."

When space became available in the building where Outpost resides in Bournemouth, it represented the perfect opportunity for the firm to organically expand. Outpost sought funding to kit out its new state-of-the art 10,000 square-foot facility with office furniture, equipment plus a series of IT network upgrades. However, when seeking financial assistance it was initially met with a lukewarm response.

"We approached a major high street bank but found them slow to respond and with strict lending criteria that was restrictive for an emerging business like ours. We wanted a funder with the ability to respond quickly and get funding ahead of revenue, which they appeared reluctant to consider," comments Michael.

The solution

Outpost decided to explore alternative finance options. The company was alerted to Bluestone Leasing (Bluestone), an award-winning provider of asset finance to UK organisations in both the private and public sectors.

Bluestone is able to offer its customers access to a large portfolio of specialist banks and funders in the UK.

After evaluating its funding partners, Bluestone identified that Wesleyan Bank was the perfect fit for Outpost.

Wesleyan Bank specialises in providing bespoke finance solutions to SMEs for all kinds of asset investments including premises refurbishments, office relocations, specialist equipment and office furniture in addition to IT software, hardware and associated maintenance services.

The company was able to arrange a five-figure, fixed term rental facility over a term of three years to enable Outpost to spread the cost of its office refurbishments and IT expenditure in a predictable and affordable way.

"I can't speak highly enough of the customer service we received," says Michael.

"Bluestone did an excellent job in listening to our requirements and were extremely helpful throughout making for a painless process. They recommended Wesleyan Bank because of their focus on supporting SMEs like us and willingness to be flexible in their approach".

"After providing routine accounting information we were able to get the finance facility in place very quickly. Without Bluestone and Wesleyan Bank I doubt we would have been able to secure the funding we needed as quickly on our own," he adds.

The results and benefits

2019 is set to be a stellar year for Outpost. It is currently in production on multiple film, broadcast and commercial projects, including major upcoming dramas for HBO and Netflix.

Thanks to Bluestone Leasing and Wesleyan Bank, Outpost's premises expansion and fit-out has now been completed.

This has enabled an increase in staff capacity from 80 to 150 people, with two 4K cinema suites and underpinned by an enhanced IT network capable of storing 500+ terabytes of data - roughly equivalent to a billion books.

In parallel, Outpost opened its first overseas studio in Montreal, Canada in January 2019, to further expand its potential to deliver innovative visual effects.

"At present there are just two people in the finance department full time so as you can imagine we have been extremely busy in dividing our attention between Bournemouth and Montreal," concludes Michael.

"The main benefit of utilising a model like Bluestone and Wesleyan Bank is that it saved us a lot of time and work, having to speak to multiple financial lenders to secure the best solution for us.

This has allowed our business to move far more rapidly than we would have been able to without their support."

Wesleyan Bank acts as a lender. Bluestone Leasing acts as a commercial finance broker. Outpost is a customer of Bluestone Leasing.

Depending on the circumstances and where required by law, loans will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Consumer Credit Act.

'WESLEYAN’ is a trading name of the Wesleyan Group of companies.

Wesleyan Assurance Society and Wesleyan Bank Ltd are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd, Wesleyan Unit Trust Managers Ltd, Practice Plan Ltd and DPAS Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  Advice about investments, insurance and mortgages is provided by Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd.

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