Client profile: Luxus Home Fragrance

  • "I felt Clifton had faith in us as a business.”
  • Personal pension transferred into a SSAS
  • Business loaned £25,000 secured against assets in the business

When James Debnam had a burning ambition to start his own candle-making business he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

He was just three months in and two companies had already approached Luxus Home Fragrance with major orders.

“We just didn’t have the money to do it,” remembers James.

Funding was needed, and needed quick.

The problem was his bank had said “no”. He had approached a start-up loan company, spent his weekends filling out forms, and they had said “no”.

He had already spotted the potential of Pension-led funding after a Google search for finance but his own financial adviser was not so sure.

“He flat out said: ‘I don’t advise it, it’s too complicated, it’s really not a good idea’.”

But James was determined to find someone, or some form of funding, before the flame went out.

Everything changed when he approached the crowdfunding and commercial funding platform Fundsurfer, who recommended he speak to Clifton Asset Management and Pension-led funding.

“Everyone else said ‘no’ but Clifton said ‘yes’,” added James, who met consultant Lewis Metcalfe in a coffee shop.

“I didn’t want him to come to my house because there were candles everywhere.”

“We were doing orders in our house for a month. We had the sofas up on end in the corner of the room and a gas burner in the middle of the lounge melting wax. We were pouring candles on the table.”

James said: “It wasn’t like going to a bank. Lewis actually came and listened. He took the facts and the figures and came to see what we were about. I felt Clifton had faith in us as a business.”

Those facts and figures added up to a £50,000 personal pension which was transferred into a Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS) and the pension loaned the business £25,000 secured against the assets in the business.

By adding a further final salary pension to the pot a further cash injection is available to Luxus to purchase machinery or more stock in the future.

A couple of months before James had been working for Oakleaf Candles in Suffolk, arriving via a degree in forestry and jobs as a saw mill production manager and in the chemical engineering industry in Scotland.

He had also met his “life and work partner” Zuzana Sabadka and, as the new owners of Oakleaf Candles targeted larger orders, the couple spotted a gap in the market.

Now Luxus Home Fragrance has seven good customers and James is predicting a turnover of between £250,000, and £300,000 in the first year with the potential to hit £500,000 next year for the contract manufacturer of candles and diffusers.

“Our customers have their ideas, they have their designs but they don’t make candles,” he said.

His customers are High Street brands including retailers such as Neom, who distribute to John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, and Timothy Dunn London, whose products are on sale in Harrods.

Luxus are also launching their own range and developing their own vegetable wax as an alternative to the traditional paraffin wax.

James said: “A normal order for us is between 1,000 and 2,000 units whether its candles or diffusers. We have another lady who wants 250 per fragrance, she may only order 250 candles, but next week we start work on an order for 40,000.”

Now based on a trading estate on the outskirts of Plymouth, James, 42, can look back and smile at the time when pallets arrived daily, sometimes delivered at 7am, to his parent’s house.

He has come a long way in a short space of time after investing his pension in his business.

“I paid the money in and I want the money out. I want to do something with it,” he said.

“I know we can make this business successful and I believe the rewards we will get out of it will very much outweigh any benefit from the pension. I have plenty of time to put money back in and have a better standard of living when I do retire.”

  • The Pavilions
  • Eden Park
  • Ham Green
  • Bristol, UK
  • BS20 0DD
  • T +44 (0) 0800 014 7099
  • E
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All companies are registered in England – Registered office: The Pavilions, 69-71 Macrae Road, Ham Green, Bristol BS20 0DD. Clifton Consulting LTD (NO. 07207668) and Clifton Wealth Limited (NO. 07207206) are appointed representatives of Clifton Compliance Services LTD (NO. 06529425) which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.