Bringing its colourful range of healthy seasonings, condiments and spices to Australian shoppers, Mingle Seasoning has quickly become a staple on supermarket shelves around the country including Woolworths and Coles. But with many of its financial processes stuck in the startup mentality, the Mingle team needed expert support to help navigate the challenges of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) category.
Challenge: Moving beyond spreadsheets and guesswork
In its initial days as an exciting startup, Mingle Seasoning didn’t need much more than basic financial systems and a sole accountant to manage the more complex tasks. But with ambitions to scale up and a product offering that attracted power players like Woolworths and Coles, their pared-back financial processes needed a major overhaul.
“Our original accountant lacked patience and understanding about what we actually do and what we wanted to do as a business,” says Adam Morris, Managing Director and Chief Spice Officer at Mingle Seasoning. “To be honest, in those early days our finances were often managed with spreadsheets.”
Recognising that they needed an accounting team who understood the various inputs that are part of Mingle’s processes, as well as experts who could help optimise the way the business is run and manage cash flow into the future, Mingle Seasoning reached out to InCorp Advisory (formerly CharterNet Rothsay).
“Ostensibly, we are still a small business,” Morris says. “And right from the start, Rebecca Alibrandi was incredibly practical. She wanted to understand how the business worked, and from there started to apply best practice across inventory management, commercial data, forecasting, the receivables process and more.”
Collaboration is key to the Mingle–InCorp Advisory partnership. Morris gets help with the everyday running of the business, while the operations team can now better plan for seasonality and purchasing behaviours. As Morris puts it: Our cash flow meetings have actually become my favourite, and ultimately I’m a better CEO for working with Bec.”
Solution: Optimising how the business is run
Mingle Seasoning has experienced enormous growth over the life of the business – including 1,100% revenue growth over the last three years. That sort of evolution in a business’s operations isn’t possible without expert financial guidance, as well as the tools to streamline time-consuming jobs.
“We apply InCorp Advisory’s IP in a practical way that aligns with our capacity and can be implemented at scale,” Morris says. “I don’t think we would be the business we are today without that function.”
This is particularly important given the turbulent nature of FMCG. In this category, a business grows – or shrinks – depending on its number of SKUs.
“You have to continue to add more SKUs to your business,” Morris says. “So while we are continuously sitting on mostly large amounts of cash, the reality is we are limited in how much of that money we can spend on marketing and the wider team.”
That’s where InCorp Advisory’s focus on data comes to the fore, particularly for businesses like Mingle where cash is king.
“When you are working with big businesses like Woolies and Coles, they hold all the power and it can be hard to manage demand from the production side. So the question is: how can you supply your products up front, get them on the shelves and sold, and still have operating capital?” says Aaron Seeto, Head of Outsourced Finance Function Services Division at InCorp Advisory. “There might be a three-month window there – so you lay out your costs on day one, but might not get paid until day 90.
“We’re more concerned about the opex (operating expenses) piece – what will you see in 30, 60, 90 days in terms of cash flow? How do you set up financing and credit terms that support this? We model all of this so Mingle know where their positions are going to land. They are paying us so they don’t run out of cash at any time. And with that data, they can keep their business afloat while marketing sustainably with a focus on both community building and ROI.
Results: Amplified success
The Mingle Seasoning brand might be an established presence in Australian supermarkets, but the team have much larger ambitions. In the not-too-distant future they hope to have carved out more products, particularly in the snacks category, and leverage owned and earned media opportunities. There are also plans to enter the US market, which Morris says is extremely exciting and it will be helpful to have support from the InCorp team.
“Since InCorp Advisory came on board they’ve learned so much about our business,” he says. “That subsequently helped our internal team figure things out as well. They don’t tell us when to order or what to order from a production point of view. Instead they help us with things like making sure what’s in a purchase order is correct, which helps us develop more robust business processes.”
Seeto loves that the Mingle Seasoning team are always eager to learn, and particularly that they are committed to growing their brand for the long term.
“Their focus is certainly on growth,” he says. “They want to build brand awareness beyond their competitors. They have specific, attainable goals around boosting sales percentages, direct sales and opportunities outside of Australia. From a finance-function perspective, that means we can work with them as a partner to help them achieve their goals and make the right strategic decisions.”
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