WATCHMAKER anOrdain is set for growth after sealing a loan deal with UMi Debt Finance Scotland, a £12 million fund that forms part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Growth Scheme.
The Glasgow-based company has borrowed £60,000 to invest in a range of Swiss components and increase its range of watches from one model to three. AnOrdain has also increased its staff numbers to 10, including possibly the only watchmaking apprentice in Scotland.
Founder Lewis Heath launched the business in 2019 and quickly sold all 250 of his Model 1 watches.
Lewis founded headphone maker RHA Technologies in 2011 and left in 2016 to concentrate on anOrdain. During Lewis’s tenure, RHA’s turnover grew to £7m, its headcount rose to more than 40 and the company listed Apple among its clients.
Lewis’s watches are mechanical instead of digital, and feature enamel dials. Early inspiration for the design of the timepieces came from Loch an Ordain, a small loch at Assynt, in the Scottish Highlands.
Lewis said: “Our Business Gateway advisor suggested UMi Debt Finance Scotland as the first option for debt funding.
“The loan has allowed us to invest in a substantial number of components from Switzerland, so we can expand our product offering from one to three models next year.
“Applying for the loan was painless – it all took just three weeks and was very little hassle, which is exactly what you want when you’re running a business – and exactly the opposite of what it normally is.
“Digital and battery powered watches are rapidly in decline because they can’t compete with smartwatches and mobiles – but the sale of mechanical watches hasn’t been affected at all by smartwatches, in fact it’s a growing market.”
Coatbridge-based UMi Debt Finance Scotland was launched in January 2019 to provide loans of between £25,001 and £100,000 to Scottish businesses. Loans are issued for three years and carry interest rates of between 6.5% and 12%.
Tom Brock, fund director at UMi Debt Finance Scotland, said: “Lewis Heath is exactly the type of entrepreneur we want to back with our loans – he’s innovative, he’s ambitious and he’s creating jobs right here in Scotland.
“Lewis is not only building his own business, but is also preserving the intricate art of watchmaking by taking on an apprentice and creating roles for other craftspeople.
“He’s already shown with RHA that he has a track record of success, and we were impressed with the clarity and detail of his business plan, as well as the quality and outstanding design of anOrdain’s range of watches. Visiting their premises and seeing the team in action brought to life the craftmanship that goes into producing each watch.
“Lewis has a clear idea about the way in which the funding will help his business to grow; and how that growth will generate the cash flow that’s needed in order to pay back the loan.”
Apprentice Euan Fairholm’s love of watches obviously keeps him going on his four hour daily commute from Edinburgh to Glasgow and back: “Horology has been a hobby of mine for some years now, having tinkered with and repaired clocks in my spare time. To move onto watches is sort of a natural progression in that the components are similar but on a much smaller scale. Getting paid to do it is a dream come true.
“I love that no two days are the same. Our bread and butter is watch assembly, but each watch is slightly different in the way it goes together, either due to the nature of the enamel dials, or because the movements need some extra attention.
“We also get watches coming in for the occasional service, so I’m doing it all, under the guidance of the company’s watchmaker, Chris.”