Ex-soccer star nets profits in world of business

A FORMER journeyman footballer who briefly played for Leeds United and York City has broken the £1m turnover barrier with his office supplies company.

Roger Eli, who started his career at Elland Road in 1986 before going on to play for 10 other clubs, set up Ventura Office Supplies three years ago and offers delivery across the UK by the next working day.

Mr Eli retired from football in 1999, but by then he had some business experience, having already sold sportswear in the 1990s.

After finishing his UK career at Burnley he played for a season in China before setting up a textile agency, which exported materials to be used in the making of suits to the Far East. That business evolved, and in 2005 Ventura was launched with the help of his wife, Andrea, and their friend Hari Athwal.

Ventura, based in Bingley, provides more than 30,000 products, including stationery, computer equipment, office furniture and corporate clothing, to firms throughout the UK.

Mr Eli said: "I always had the idea of selling. Obviously everybody wants their football career to carry on, but for me business was the way forward. You get the same sort of buzz from it as playing football and I can always return to the game through coaching or playing (at an amateur level)."

Mr Eli made just two appearances for Leeds United but the highlight of his career was a five- year stint at Burnley, where his bustling style made him a cult hero.

He was part of the Burnley team which won the old Fourth Division championship under the managership of James Mullen in 1992. Mr Eli, who scored 31 goals in his time with the Clarets, also played for teams including Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crewe Alexander.

Ventura recently invested in an automated back office system to allow them to handle more orders and speed up the despatch process. They also hope to win new customers through telesales and their road-based sales teams.

The firm secured a 100,000 funding package from RBS Invoice Finance to continue with its growth plans. The invoice discounting facility from RBS allows the availability of funding to grow in line with sales. It allows expanding companies to utilise cash flow to support business growth.

Mr Eli, director of Ventura, said: "Since launching, the business has performed really well. As we continue to grow and take on new orders it's essential that we have the necessary funding in place to cover the cost of our overheads."

Funding was provided by Colin Andreassen from RBS Invoice Finance and Andy Kay from RBS Commercial bank.

Mr Andreassen, said: "Ventura is a real success story and is a company that has achieved a lot in a short space of time."