In conversation with Steve Finch

Steve Finch
Image credit Click Europe

We sat down with Steve Finch, Managing director, Click Europe to talk about his business and his aspirations for 2024.

Q. Tell us about your business and who is your target audience?

A. We are a family-owned toy, video game and leisure company, based in the heart of Dulwich. There are two sides to Click Europe – our wholesale B2B where we target toy retailers from smaller independent high street shops, to big department stores, garden centres, and online market places like John Lewis, Next, and Robert Dyas. On the other side, we sell our own products direct to consumers via platforms like Amazon and OnBuy – for this, we have our own boppi brand which is for toys aimed at children aged 18 months to 8yrs, and bopster, our brand for children and adults aged 8yrs+.

Q. Talk us through the transition of working in the City to becoming an entrepreneur.

A. I worked as a Business Manager for Marex. We were in commodities futures and options trading: Metals, Agriculturals and so on. Before then, Refco, HSBC and ING. I have definitely been around the City and Canary Wharf! On the side, my cousin and I had set up a distribution company buying and selling computer games, and we could see that if we diversified the products we were selling (a lot of gaming was moving to online), with the contacts that we had already made, we had the real potential for growth.

By this time, my second daughter had just been born, and the prospect of creating our own toy brands and products was something that really excited me. We now have four strong brands: boppi, bopster, Land Surfer, and a leisure range called just be… Our turnover for June 2022 to June 2023 was £16.4m with a value currently just under £10 million, so it was definitely the right decision.

Q. What skills have you transferred from being a City worker to owning your own business?

A. Team management, sales and customer service have all really helped when setting up our own internal teams, but also just having been in a big office or company environment helped to shape my understanding of how I wanted our firm to run. I feel for young people starting our in their careers today who might not get that experience due to the increase in numbers working from home.

Q. What challenges do you face running your own business and how do you overcome them?

A. Running a company can feel pretty lonely at times. In the end, a lot of the responsibilities stop with you. And if you are not careful it really can become a 24/7 job. Learning how to switch off is key. That’s why being in an office again is so important. Its important to leave at the end of the day and shut the screens down!

Cash flow is also one of our biggest challenges and so it’s incredibly important that we have a good relationship with our bank. Retail and product development require a lot of upfront investments, before you can begin to see a return on that for around 18 months.

Q. What is the secret to your success?

A. I think being open to new ideas and then being fast to capitalise on them. We’ve managed to get through some of the toughest business challenges that nobody could forsee… Covid, Brexit, and the Suez Canal fiasco, resulting in increased manufacturing and shipping costs and lead times. Even now we’re still feeling the effects, but it’s taught us how resilient we can be, and how we’re able to adapt to change if we just keep going.

Q. What did you love most about working in the City?

A. The spirit of working in a big team was incredible. It was a lot of fun at times. Hard work for sure. But I met people from all walks of life that I never thought possible.

Q. What advice would you give to any aspiring City workers who wish to start their own business and quit the 9-5?

A. Use the time before you start your business to put all of the planning in place that you can, because once you get going it’s often hard to find the time to do that.

Make sure you test the waters first with your business idea – can you run it alongside your current job until the time comes when you can see that it’s financially viable? Make sure you understand the seasonality of your business, and then you’ll be able to make the switch to focus full time on it.

Q. What’s in the pipeline for 2024?

A. We have over 10 new products launching under our boppi and bopster brands this year, the first being our boppi 150-piece Unicorn round jigsaw puzzle on 29th March 2024 (my girls LOVE this product!) We’ve also signed our first licensing deal, and so from August, we’ll be launching Hatsune Miku micro jigsaw puzzles. This will mean a new audience for us, along with hopefully a new journey into the world of licensing. Link to Unicorn Round Puzzle

Steve Finch is Managing Director at Click Europe

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