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OnDeck keeps importer afloat through COVID and shipping snarls

by OnDeck Australia,   Mar 25, 2021

Like plenty of SMEs in 2020 furniture importer and OnDeck customer, Maxine Walker of Illawarra-based 55 Parrots was in a financial pickle.


Due to the global impact of COVID and having to close three retail stores for eight weeks, 2020 was promising to be a challenging year. Not only was Maxine trying to stay afloat during the two-month lockdown, but there were also rents and utilities to pay and no income coming in from her retail shops. She had just signed a new lease for a larger retail space that included warehousing, a retail outlet, and an art gallery.


COVID also caused delays to Maxine’s imports from Indonesia, as the South East Asian county was in and out of lockdown, while there were extra precautions with managing cargo worldwide.


During this time, Sydney was hit with local stevedoring holdups and industrial unrest in Port Botany, NSW’s largest container port. “The cargo ship carrying our container came into Sydney, but due to a large amount of port congestion, the ship was sent to Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne before it came back to Port Botany.” Maxine recalled.


“I needed this container to fulfil customer orders that would help alleviate our cash flow problems.” Throw in the importing delays, low stock, and the fact Maxine was trying to complete a refit that would cost approximately $100,000, and the situation was testing.


When the container arrived, Maxine was hit with additional stevedoring fees to rub salt into the financial wounds.


Reaching out to OnDeck when COVID struck


If she didn’t have enough on her plate, COVID struck when Maxine was also dealing with some personal issues. At this point, she reached out to OnDeck. “It was crazy times, as I’d just signed a lease for this massive space. I was worried that no customers would come. I was also deeply concerned about the future, especially with a massive container on its way from Indonesia and the implications that COVID could bring.”


Maxine said she took advantage of JobKeeper that helped keep her staff employed. The importer also applied for a loan through the Coronavirus Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Guarantee Scheme. However, because 55 Parrots showed a loss due to recent fit outs over the last two years, the bank advised it was ineligible.


“We had a significant amount of capital tied up on containers and in deposits paid to suppliers overseas,” she said.


“Our cash flow wasn’t working for us, and the difficulties in applying for COVID loans through the banks only presented more pressure for my business.”


“After being in business for eight years, and having no business loan or overdraft, we’d never been faced with the problem of cash flow and meeting the demands of our consumers.” Maxine, a former public servant, had launched into small business selling homewares at weekend markets before opening a first store that has since expanded into 55 Parrots.


At this point, Maxine’s financial adviser suggested she approach OnDeck. “My financial advisers were also struggling with supporting other SMEs who were unable to get COVID loan approvals due to the onerous push back from the major banks. It was ridiculous.”


Working with OnDeck


When Maxine approached OnDeck, she was in a bind with suppliers chasing payments as well as the expensive fit-out of the new retail warehouse.


But immediately, the SME owner found that she was in good hands. “OnDeck is an amazing business with amazing staff and was a lifesaver in hard financial times,” Maxine said.


The SME owner made a late-night online application with OnDeck, and was contacted immediately the next morning, and her loan was approved within 36 hours.


“Christopher, who dealt with my loan application, was extremely knowledgeable, prompt with his replies and immensely helpful the whole way through.


“Certainly, it was a pleasure to come across this type of service in these crazy times and with the banks and their red tape making it nearly impossible to secure a loan.


“I’d recommend any SME talk to OnDeck about getting some funding for their business. They were prompt and easy to work with. They saved my life.”


Get in touch today to find out about funding options to help finance your SME’s business planning which may be available to you.


Prepared by OnDeck Capital Australia Pty Ltd ABN 28 603 753 215 (“OnDeck”) for general information purposes only. Content may belong to or have originated from third parties and OnDeck takes no responsibility for the accuracy, validity, reliability or completeness of any information. Information current as at March 2021. You should not rely upon the material or information as a basis for making any business, financial or any other decisions. Loans issued in Australia are subject to the terms of a loan agreement issued by OnDeck. Loans are subject to lender approval. OnDeck® is a Registered Trademark. All rights reserved.

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