A former professional motorbike racer in the US, Robin Holiday now combines his entrepreneurial acumen with a commitment to the community through not-for-profit school uniform business Get it 4 School. GrowthBusiness reports.
Ten years ago, Robin Holiday set up a sports nutrition products business called CLF Distribution. He ran it from his garage, using products brought back from the US. With the profits from the business, he established Get it 4 School, a not-for-profit provider of school-specific uniforms, back in 2005.
‘CLF is the for-profit company that allows me to run the social enterprise, but it also funds my leisure time and allows me to buy the toys that I want,’ enthuses Holiday.
The toys in question are actually a “mini-fleet” of motorbikes: ‘I have nine bikes and my sons have one each as well. My most recent purchase was a Ducati Desmosedici, a motorbike that retails for £40,000 since they only made 1,500 of them.’
Though it’s road registered, it is only on track days at Silverstone and Donington that Holiday is able to ‘explore the full capacity’ of his bike, a 200-horsepower machine capable of a speed of 200 miles per hour.
‘I have been riding scrambler bikes since I was six or seven years old, and I raced professionally in the US for ten years. I was racing at national level across the whole of the US. I moved back to the UK in 1997 because the schools are better here.’
He has no idea what he has spent on motorbikes down the years – Holiday cites the old wisdom that ‘to make a small fortune at racing, you have to start with a large one’ – but he has no regrets, since it is his ‘passion’.
A uniform approach
The other passion in Holiday’s life is the aforementioned online school-uniform retailer, Get it 4 School, which he started with twin goals – to reduce the price of school uniforms and help schools fundraise.
Holiday founded the company shortly after he had to buy uniforms for his children. He was shocked both by the price and the quality of uniforms on offer: ‘I started the business because I had three children and they had to go to school with a uniform that had the school logo on it. The price the school was charging was over-inflated because they had a local monopoly, so I set about breaking that monopoly.’
In its 2005 trial year, the business supplied uniforms to three schools near Holiday’s Dorset home. Today, the business clothes thousands of pupils at almost 100 participating schools in the South of England. And thanks to a recent investment from its for-profit parent, CLF, Get it 4 School is set to be able to offer its scheme to an additional 40 or 50 schools this year.
Money for schools
Believing that ‘schools should not seek to profit from uniform sales by charging high prices to the detriment of parents’, Holiday’s business also offers non-uniform related fundraising opportunities to schools, outside of the uniforms’ realm, through online shopping with partners such as Tesco and Amazon. It has raised in excess of £76,000 since it was launched.
‘Get it 4 School is a social enterprise, which means that all of the profit is returned to the community by some method or other,’ says Holiday. ‘All of our business is by referral. I think that what we are doing is a noble thing, and my aim is to cover all of the schools in the UK eventually. We have the management team to do it.’
As for CLF, Holiday has no plans to float the business on a market such as AIM, where the entrepreneur’s fortunes and business valuations are so heavily dependent on investor sentiment, because ‘then you are no longer in the driving seat, and I like to control my own destiny’.