Client profile: Ino-Vape Ltd

  • “I would recommend Pension-led funding, no question at all. For different people in different positions it is an alternative route to raise money.”
  • SIPP set up
  • Purchased preference shares in business
  • Capital repaid on interest-only basis over 5 years

Smokers everywhere are always looking for that magic cure to help them break their habit.
 
Chris Breslin found his and has taken his discovery a step further by launching a business selling it. 
 
Now Ino-Vape Ltd is up and running, Chris plans to help others quit smoking by introducing them to e-cigarettes. 
 
“I was a smoker for around 35 years, smoking 20 Benson and Hedges a day,” Chris said. “I tried and tried to give up. First time I tried vaping I gave up overnight. It was a miracle.” 
 
Quitting was one thing but finding the right e-cigarette combination to keep the cravings at bay became a time-consuming and expensive internet search. “I spent over £300 before I landed on the right combination that worked perfectly for me,” he admitted. 
 
Chris believes many people fall back into their old habits out of frustration, cost or because existing shops selling e-cigarettes are off the beaten track. He is taking his, “if it can work for me it can work for anyone”, philosophy to the heart of the shopping centre and plans to open a string of stores nationwide. 
 
“I believe the industry is ready and ripe to go High Street rather than corner shop,” said Chris, who spent his early career working for Currys before moving into International Sales and Marketing. 
 
“Our shop is beautifully merchandised, clean, first class. Everything is slick and ordered. The second part of the formula is your staff. They have to be knowledgeable and be extremely good with customers. 
 
“We are there to ensure everyone is properly educated and matched with the vape which is right for them.” 
 
Chris needed to finance his dream, but with most of his equity tied up in property and not wanting to sell, he focused on a £122,000 pension pot which was “sitting doing nothing; my property value was growing” after hearing about Pension-led funding through a mutual friend. 
 
“I was looking for an extra £45,000 to be used to buy a retail property in a High Street location, purchase stock, merchandising, employ staff and shop fit.” 
 
With our help, a preference share deal was set up. A Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) was arranged and the new pension scheme purchased preference shares issued by the company. The capital is repaid on an interest-only loan basis over a five-year term. 
 
“Once I had access to the pension fund I knew I could make it grow faster in the business. I’ve been very grateful for all the work that (consultant) Alan Crook did,” he said. 
 
“I was in a certain position and it happened to be the most sensible way to release the funds from my perspective. I needed the funds right then to take advantage of the opportunity. 
 
“I would recommend Pension-led funding, no question at all. For different people in different positions it is an alternative route to raise money.” 
 
Chris said: “I want to bring this to more people and explain how e-cigarettes can work and be much healthier and cheaper. This is a good business opportunity for us and can help customers with their health and finances. 
 
“Public Health England will quite happily say they are more than 95 per cent safer. A very safe, and a very effective alternative to smoking and getting off smoking. The UK’s Royal College of Physicians also says there is resounding evidence that e-cigarettes are ‘much safer’ than smoking and aid quitting.” 
 
The Ino-Vape store in Solihull, West Midlands, stocks more than 70 different e-cigarette flavours and Chris prides himself on managing the different strengths of nicotine across the range, and the appropriate Vape to accompany them. 
 
Chris said meeting the needs of customers was a “complex business” and a key part of the education process focuses on a smoker’s history, budget and “matching the vape which is right for them”. 
 
“They will often come back to you for further advice or the next step of technology,” said Chris, who hopes to have his second shop open within six months. 
 
His short-term goal is to launch three to provide “proof of concept” with backing lined up to help with the long-term aim of opening 100-150 shops within seven years. 
 
“My intention is to expand to a whole branded chain of these shops nationally. That is the aspiration,” Chris said optimistically while emphasising the health benefits. 
 
“The health message is very, very important. If it can work for me, it can work for anyone. 
 
“I want to do this nationwide and get everyone off cigarettes, save a lot of lives, save the NHS a lot of money and, of course, build a business.” 

Business

Quitting was one thing but finding the right e-cigarette combination to keep his cravings at bay became a time-consuming and expensive internet search for Chris. The Ino-Vape store in Solihull, West Midlands, stocks more than 70 different e-cigarette flavours and aims to match the right “vape” for each individual customer.

Funding needs

Chris believed the “industry was ready and ripe to go High Street” and was looking for an extra £45,000 to buy a retail property, buy stock, merchandising, employ staff and fit out the shop. Most of his equity was tied up in property he didn’t want to sell.

Result

He heard about Pension-led funding through a mutual friend and focused on using a £122,000 pension pot which was “sitting doing nothing”. With our help, a preference share deal was set up. A Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) was arranged and the new pension scheme purchased preference shares issued by the company.

Going forward

Chris plans to open a second store within six months. His short-term goal is to launch three shops to provide “proof of concept” with backing lined up to help with the long-term aim of opening 100-150 within seven years.

Useful link:
Public Health England – E-cigarettes an evidence update 

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