Grow a business when you don’t have property to secure funding? This was the sweet option chosen by confectionery company Bramble & Hedge when they partnered with ScotPac. Aligning with a flexible finance partner that does not need property as security for funding has been a gamechanger that has allowed them to focus on making the best nougat in the market.
In a market where taste is everything, luxury confectionary maker Bramble & Hedge’s management and pastry chefs are confident they have their rivals’ measure.
Based in Cheltenham, Victoria, the business specialises in making handmade nougat, peanut brittle, chocolate honeycomb and popcorn crunch, with nougat being its biggest seller.
“There’s plenty on the market, but there’s no nougat at our level,” says general manager Hamish MacLachlan. “It’s a high-end product. There’s nothing better.”
Until recently, however, Bramble & Hedge had a problem. Founder and creative director Hayley Crompton’s reputation as one of the top artisans in her field, running a business turning over millions of dollars a year, meant nothing when it came to funding. The big banks didn’t want to back her because she had no property assets as security for funding.
“It didn’t matter how good the business was and how much it made,” Hamish says. “At the last minute the bankers would turn around and say, ‘Oh, you haven’t got any property’. So it was very hard, even though this is a very good business.”
Trading off business assets
Fortunately, Bramble & Hedge discovered a more flexible form of funding – Invoice Financing, an on-demand line of credit secured by one or more outstanding sales invoices. No property security is required for this clever funding choice which puts tomorrow’s payments into their business today.
The advances on invoices free up cashflow to pay suppliers and maintain sales and maximise the assets of the business. “If we had to wait 30 or 60 days for payment, we couldn’t exist,” Hamish says.
“The experience with ScotPac has been light years ahead of anything else. And every person we talk to at ScotPac has a happy face.”
As well as maximising the assets already in the business, a side benefit of the funding relationship is that it has moved Bramble & Hedge to streamline supply chains and clean up formerly “messy” debtor and creditor lists, putting the company in a stronger business position.
Unlock Christmas potential
Hayley started Bramble & Hedge 12 years ago to pursue her love for high-end confectionery.
The business has always had a strong following, and in 2017 Hayley and Hamish ramped up operations. The business has thrived on the back of big orders from David Jones and other major retailers.
Now with 18 people in the team and pallets of nougat being shipped out the door every day, Bramble & Hedge is set for growth domestically and beyond its current export markets of Singapore and the Middle East.
Hamish is confident the strength of Bramble & Hedge’s tailored arrangement with ScotPac will help it thrive, especially in the lead-up to Christmas, a period when sales of confectionery gift packages soar.
ScotPac’s willingness to raise funding limits as required for the festive rush means all the pieces of the puzzle are in order for strong sales, with better structured divisions and new machinery also helping streamline manufacturing.
Most importantly, knowing they can get the funds they need ensures that nut, egg, honey and sugar suppliers can be paid quickly and that products will be ready for distribution.
“Even though we’re getting smashed with orders, we’re turning product around quicker because our only funding is from ScotPac and it’s reliable,” Hamish says. “So we’ll have our best Christmas by far.”
Turning a great culture into sales
The other focus for Bramble & Hedge is on ensuring that Hayley is able to continue crafting exquisite nougat. “She’s a creative genius so if she’s relaxed about the business, she’ll create wonderfulness,” Hamish says.
Concentrating on creating a great culture of happiness among pastry chefs and other workers is paying off.
“They’re happy people and they create happiness. Happiness is a bloody good product.”
Hamish believes strong growth is assured on the back of such a great culture and products, along with strong customer and financial bases.
“Our finance base is in better shape than it’s ever been, and that’s because of ScotPac.”