Now part of the LVMH portfolio, Australian swimwear star Seafolly wants to more than double its revenue in three years.
I’ve been in the role for three years, overseeing financial and functional requirements – predominantly in Australia, but we also have interests in Singapore, the US and Europe.
I’m responsible for reporting, budgeting, strategic planning, foreign exchange, funding requirements and maximising financial performance. I also look after IT.
There are 14 in the finance team ... four report directly to me. Revenue is around A$120 million and we have growth plans to get to about A$250 million in three years.
After one year at university, I thought it would be good to gain some experience while studying, so switched to part-time and took an accounting role at Windscreens O’Brien [now known as O’Brien]. O’Brien is part of the Belron group and I stayed with them for 13 years. This played a key role in getting me to where I am.
I went from O’Brien in Sydney to Smith & Smith Glass in Auckland, and from there to London. When I returned to Sydney, I joined Diva – my first experience of fashion and retail. I was there for three years before coming to Seafolly.
Taking a role in New Zealand was a big stepping stone. New Zealand wasn’t an obvious choice, as it was a smaller business, but it was a new country, a fantastic team and the business size allowed for a much broader role. I was able to build relationships with the Belron global office, which in turn opened doors in London to a group finance role.
It was daunting, turning up in London and not knowing a soul, but you come out better and stronger, with a much broader experience that you can put into new roles.
You should make sure you understand what’s going on across the business, outside of finance, then use the numbers to tell that
story. You add value by providing insight around the future implications [of what’s happening] and its impact on performance.
Building relationships across the business
with other departments helps you gain that insight and more effectively influence the performance of the business.
Seafolly went through an acquisition last year when L Capital Asia – the private equity arm of LVMH – bought a controlling share. Working through that due diligence process was a big highlight, resulting in a successful sale for the business.
It was challenging, because it was so intense and highly confidential, and you still had to fulfil all of your normal responsibilities.
It’s an amazing step for Seafolly. We were already on a growth curve, but this gives us access to a global organisation with expertise in international markets.
With Seafolly’s growth plan, and looking to grow revenue on that scale, managing cash flow is a challenge. You need to be sure you have your planning and forecasts right so that you can manage funding and working capital requirements.
Retail is a tough, up-and-down industry, and we have the added challenges of seasonality and transitioning from a nationally known swimwear brand to a global beach lifestyle brand.
As a key member of the leadership team, there is a need to keep the focus on strategic goals while supporting the business as it scales up for growth.
This article is from the March issue of INTHEBLACK.
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