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Managing cash flow and FX risk

American Express AccessLine™ Case Study – Managing Cash Flow and Product Demand in the Import IndustryArticle

On Track For Success

How AccessLine helps cycling company Dirt Tracks to manage cash flow, surges in product demand, overseas suppliers and stand up to the demands of a volatile market.

Enthusiastic cyclists, Richard Powell and Wayne Chapman, started Dirt Works as a hobby back in 1994, never dreaming that their passion would turn into a full time occupation.

Running a cycling business however, hasn’t always been a smooth ride. When the global economic crisis hit, Richard and Wayne had to respond to keep their business - and livelihoods - on track. To ride out the storm, they needed flexible access to credit and a streamlined way to pay multiple overseas suppliers. American Express’s new AccessLine service was perfect for their needs.

AccessLine gave Richard & Wayne access to substantial funds and enabled them to manage cash flow as well as surges in product and inventory demand. With its help, Richard and Wayne have been able to maintain a healthy cash flow, as well as benefiting from Membership Rewards points.

Today, Dirt Works supplies 600 stores Australia-wide as well as retailing its own brands online. AccessLine continues to support this exciting, fast-growing business. And its founders are having the ride of their lives.

Bike Business On A Roll

Not many people who set out to turn their passion into a business are around 22 years later to tell their success story. Richard Powell and Wayne Chapman are an exception to this trend.

Enthusiastic cyclists, they started Dirt Works in a garage in Western Sydney in 1994. They worked hard to build a strong wholesale bicycle, parts and accessories business – sourcing quality overseas products and distributing them within the Australian market.

Yet Dirt Works has had its fair share of challenges.

“The combination of the Global Financial Crisis and a flood of cheap overseas products available via the internet had a devastating effect on the industry,” said Richard Powell, Dirt Works co-founder.

“At one point, overseas mail houses were delivering bikes to Australia more cheaply than we could obtain them wholesale from our overseas suppliers.

“Perceptions of risk shifted and lenders were not willing to provide credit to small businesses that wanted to invest in new products,” he said.

Reinventing The Finance Wheel

To remain competitive, Dirt Works needed to become more innovative, diversify its supplier base and sales channels, and secure a finance solution that would help manage cash flow and stand up to the demands of a volatile market.

Richard and Wayne developed a strategy that focused on being expert in products that could not be easily sourced from overseas, and developing their own locally designed retail brands. The company set about sourcing overseas supply partners who valued local distribution and support. Soon, it was trading with more than 12 overseas suppliers from countries including China, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States.

With such a widely dispersed supplier base, Dirt Works needed a streamlined way to pay partners and access short-term credit. So it turned to American Express’s AccessLine service.

AccessLine can be used to pay overseas and domestic suppliers fast and securely, irrespective of whether they accept card payments, and the funds are not charged for up to 51 days. Accessed via an online portal, AccessLine streamlines payments with comprehensive reporting as well as earning reward points.

“AccessLine takes care of surges in demand or inventory, without the need to fill out complex forms or sign over a house,” says Richard. “It helps to manage cash flow – by enabling quick access to substantial funds and allowing time for new stock to arrive before payments need to be made.”

“The AccessLine reporting simplifies bookkeeping, especially given that we deal in multiple currencies. American Express is fantastic in proactively alerting us before payments are due,” he adds. “And we earn points that can be redeemed towards business expenses such as computers.”

Ride Of Their Life

In AccessLine, Dirt Works found a funding solution for short-term cash flow needs that enabled the business to ride the waves in the volatile cycling market. Today, Dirt Works is supplying bicycles, parts and accessories as a wholesaler to 600 stores Australia-wide as well as retailing three of its own brands online.

But it doesn’t end there. As Richard says, “Change is constant and you have to keep innovating or you get left behind.” Today, AccessLine provides the essential funding & payment services that Richard and Wayne need to support them as they continue to work on their passion.

AccessLine

An innovative trade finance product from American Express which makes international and domestic payments simple for business. Benefits include:

  • Access without issues

    - make simple, secure payments to suppliers within Australia and overseas – even if they don't accept cards

  • Keep cash flowing

    - allows efficient management of cash flow and opportunity to negotiate early payment discounts on domestic and international payments, with up to 51 days to pay

  • Speed and efficiency

    - streamlines domestic and international payments and provides comprehensive reporting for improved visibility

  • Rewarding to pay

    - earns one American Express Membership Rewards point for every dollar spent on payments

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