A Komplett Approach to Working Capital Enhancement
An SEB Case Study
Web-commerce giant Komplett Group has experienced substantial and rapid growth over recent years, both within its home market of Norway and internationally across Scandinavia. Key to the company’s success is the strength of its service concept, enabling customers to track their online purchases from order to delivery, leading to a high level of trust and customer retention. SEB and Komplett Group joined forces early in Komplett’s lifecycle. Not only does SEB provide working capital services, but the bank also supports Komplett Group across a wide range of advice and support across the company’s complete spectrum of cash, trade and financing needs.
Since listing on the Oslo stock market in 2000, Komplett Group has been rigorous in ensuring that the quality, timeliness and efficiency of its financial reporting and processes exceed stakeholder expectations and provide a benchmark for the retail industry. While strong financial performance is important to every business, whether a small entrepreneurial company or a publicly listed corporation, the board recognised that priorities and demands were changing as the company grew. While customer acquisition remained a vital consideration, building customer loyalty was essential to Komplett Group’s on-going success. Although Komplett Group delisted in 2011, the focus on long-term shareholder value and sustainable growth remains pivotal to its business strategy.
Building on competitive advantage
To achieve this, Komplett Group needed to create the most positive shopping experience possible. There were a number of factors involved in this. Some of these are easy to replicate, such as the look and feel of its webshops, product range and pricing. Therefore, while these were essential, they were not areas in which Komplett Group could derive long-term competitive advantage. Komplett Group’s customers particularly valued the quality of service including order accuracy and ease of return, and the ability to track orders from the point of order to delivery. These remain major factors in customers’ decision to shop through a Komplett Group webshop as opposed to sourcing goods through competitors. To optimise the service experience for customers, Komplett Group therefore made the strategic decision to invest in a central warehousing facility at the company’s headquarters in Sandefjord, near Oslo, now totaling more than 21,000m2 of capacity. This is a multi-storey, robotic facility with highly automated stock availability checking, picking, packing and distribution to customers. Despite the scale of this undertaking, Komplett Group knew that this was a vital investment to position the company for future growth, and strengthen the relationship of trust with customers.
Optimising financial metrics
In tandem with this major strategic initiative, Komplett Group also needed to rationalise and streamline its processes. Following the merger with Torp Computing Group ASA in 2008, the newly combined group had two different ERP platforms and duplicate business, storage and logistic functions, initially increasing operating costs and reducing profitability. Another, related concern was the company’s financial performance metrics. Working capital efficiency reduced between 2005 and 2008; similarly, return on capital employed (RoCE) was volatile and declining. Enhancing working capital was a key consideration as the higher the costs within the business, the higher the financing requirement and interest costs, putting further pressure on narrow sales margins.