Edgard & Cooper schakelt met procesautomatisering versnelling hoger om internationale ambities waar te maken

Edgard & Cooper shifts up a gear with process automation to realize international ambitions

Dries Dauw (delaware BeLux) and Christophe Willaert (Edgard & Cooper)

Edgard & Cooper, producer of high-quality food for dogs and cats, is experiencing rapid growth. The company, which grew from start-up to scale-up in a short period of time, has the ambition to become the European market leader. The free publicity in the Netflix hit series Emily in Paris recently gave the Kortrijk-based company a helping hand to achieve that goal. “We are constantly looking for ways to increase our efficiency in all areas of our company, including finance. By further automating our accounting activities, more time is freed up for strategic issues. In the long term, this will contribute to the realization of our growth ambitions,” says CFO Christophe Willaert.

Since its foundation in 2016, the Kortrijk specialist in dog and cat food has raised capital several times from external financiers from the Netherlands and abroad. In the most recent capital round in December 2022, a further 20 million euros were injected into the company.

Over the past five years, the company has grown an average of 80 percent per year and today operates in 13 countries

With these powerful financial partners, who are also an important sounding board, Edgard & Cooper can continue the steep growth of recent years. “Over the past five years, the company has grown an average of 80 percent per year and is now active in 13 countries. In 2022 we achieved a gross annual turnover of 65 million euros”, says Edgard & Cooper CFO Christophe Willaert.

Gear up

From the very beginning, Edgard & Cooper’s payment traffic runs over Isabel 6, the platform that supports companies in their daily banking transactions. “Because of our international character, we are forced to hold accounts with other foreign banks in addition to the in-house bank. Working with all the different platforms is cumbersome and inefficient.”

The strength of Isabel 6 is the fact that almost everything can be done from one user interface”, says Willaert. Due to the strong growth, the number of financial transactions at Edgard & Cooper has risen sharply in recent years. “Given our ambitions, I expect this increase to continue. From that point of view, an integrated platform such as Isabel 6 is a necessity to maintain a global and detailed overview of our cash flows,” the CFO continues.

Christophe Willaert, CFO at Edgard & Cooper (© Emilie Bonje)

“At present, there is no written comprehensive digital strategy, but rather a fragmented one per department. As a young company, however, digitization and data-driven decision-making are in our DNA. The advantage is that there is little legacy from the past. With every decision we have to make, we have to keep scalability and efficiency in mind.”

As a young company, however, digitization and data-driven decision-making are in our DNA

“The systems we set up should support our further growth ambitions within the current structure,” says Willaert. The focus of the animal nutrition specialist is on automation and standardization. Given the rapid growth of the company, it is crucial that these are simple and scalable solutions.

(© Emilie Bonje)

“Our basic processes are secured within the standard cloud ERP package. In addition, we work with best-of-breed solutions for specific purposes, which can easily integrate with this ERP package.”

As loyal Isabel 6 users, it was a logical thing for us to switch to Isabel Connect in 2022. This enables a connection between the multibanking platform that we have used for many years and our own ERP system. In this way we can shift up a gear in further automating and optimizing our accounting activities,” says Willaert.

Efficiency gain

Via Isabel Connect, Isabel 6 users can access their bank details and execute payment orders directly through their accounting applications. Bank statements are automatically collected from the connected banks and the users in the accounting department can automatically upload payment files from the ERP package.

“Our payment traffic and accounting processing used to take too much time. Because Isabel Connect connects to our ERP system, we can increasingly switch from manual processes to an automated way of working. This increases efficiency and productivity in our finance team,” says Willaert, who adds that it also facilitates follow-up when someone is sick or on vacation.

Christophe Willaert (Edgard & Cooper) and Dries Dauw (delaware BeLux)

Moreover, an automated way of working is a lot safer. “The fact that manual intervention is no longer required when downloading and uploading files reduces the risk of both human error and possible fraud. All of this also fits within the internal control measures, where it is a matter of limiting risks as much as possible,” says Willaert.

Finance als business partner

As a result of the efficiency gains, Edgard & Cooper’s accounting department frees up more time for strategic and quality work. “As a finance department, we are expected to provide insights. We will transform data and numbers into information. In this way we can create value by offering support in making both operational and strategic decisions,” explains Willaert.

The new way of working enabled by Isabel Connect was enthusiastically received by its finance team. “As a relatively young company, we have little or no legacy in terms of software. Everyone looks to the future with an open mind, no one is stuck in old systems. Our people all have one entrepreneurial mindset. They are open to changes and we therefore encourage them to think about how things can be done differently and better”, says Willaert.

Finance department at Edgard & Cooper (© Emilie Bonje)

This growth mentality is fueled by the fact that employees are allowed to make decisions about the software that is used. “This is not imposed on them from above. From the first demo, the end users are always closely involved.”

“After all, they are working on it every day and during demos they immediately see what the impact will be on their work. I think it makes sense that they sit around the table from the start. We compare the options and make a decision together. That is also good for the adoption of the tool: people are more motivated to work with it,” says Willaert.

Lots of potential

Within a few months Isabel Connect was available up and running at Edgard & Cooper. “The smooth turnaround time can certainly also be attributed to delaware, our regular ERP partner. Due to the fact that Edgard & Cooper was the first company to integrate Isabel Connect with the cloud ERP package, some adjustments were necessary. The basis is now there for further international growth of the company.”

“Delaware is also close to us in Kortrijk, which is of course also a big advantage. But what is especially important is that we share the same values: one openminded spirit and a lot of desire to grow. Delaware is the ideal partner for us to support us in our further growth,” says Willaert.

Dries Dauw, Finance & Business Controlling at delaware BeLux (© Emilie Bonje)

The solid partnership will already face a new challenge in 2023, Willaert says. “We want next level deal with our supplier accounting. Today we already use OCR scanning technology to optimize the processing of incoming invoices. It is already going very well, but there is always room for improvement, of course”, Willaert concludes.

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