UK-based global perfume house Clive Christian Perfume occupies a niche brand in the luxury perfume market. Sourced from 150-200 unique ingredients from all over the world, this “pure perfume” is an opulent product offering for prestigious retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. With Clive Christian Perfumes retailing at an average
$400-$500 per bottle, the U.S. market presented some cash flow challenges for the organization that differed from their UK-based business.
“We work only with very select retailers,” stated Robert Howard, U.S. Finance and Operations Manager for Clive Christian Perfume. “One of our retailers can typically order $40,000-50,000 of product per store and that means they can carry a balance with us of $200,000 or more. It’s a serious amount of money to be waiting on. Our product is quite expensive to produce and on top of that we pay the salaries of the in-store sales representatives that sell our product at the location.”
“We were often waiting 40 days or more to receive payment on an invoice. We incur a lot of expenses just to bring the perfume to market and get it to the store, so collecting timely payment is critical.” he continued. Dealing with cash needs on demand can be difficult when invoices are paid many weeks after they are issued for any company. Predictable cash flow lets a company plan for growth, fulfill seasonal needs and to take advantage of unique opportunities that arise.
Bibby Financial Services (BFS) offered a fully customized solution known as invoice factoring to keep cash flowing within Clive Christian Perfume. Factoring provides financing to a company up-front based on outstanding invoices.
“They were willing to work with us, which was very important,” said Robert. “Regular banks were looking for a much larger amount to be financed but we didn’t want a big line of credit like that. BFS recognized us as a small company and provided the perfect solution to meet our needs. Just to be able to push the buyers to give us new orders and then be able to finance and immediately have access to cash for payroll, for working capital, or whatever we need is a pretty unique model.”
As a part of their services, BFS typically handles collections on the invoices they finance. In this case, the luxury perfumery wanted to keep collections in-house to maintain a personal level of contact with their customers. Through the BFS web-based Client Portal, Robert can log in at any time to review the status of invoices and the account management activity on customers as needed. The company found BFS to be a solution that bridged the wait for invoice payments by providing the financing the company needed to help them move ahead in their
Clive Christian Perfume currently distributes to retailers in an estimated 25 states, predominantly through three high-end department store chains. As the luxury perfume market continues to grow globally, the company is well-positioned for this growth and plans to expand their relationships through additional prestigious luxury retailers and via its official online store.
“BFS helps us to prove ourselves in the stores we’re currently in,” Robert explained. “That way, when space becomes available in a new store, we’re ready. When you have a product like ours leveraging help with cash flow from BFS means we can take on new business and ship product to a client with the peace of mind, knowing that we can cover our expenses. I can predict what my cash flow is going to be based on the orders we ship as opposed to trying to predict when we're going to get paid by the retailer. We’ve experienced significant growth over the last two years, and BFS is helping us maintain the financial independence to keep our foot on the gas.”