Alex Dossche

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Edgard & Cooper shifts gears with process automation to achieve international ambitions

Edgard & Cooper, the manufacturer of high-quality food for dogs and cats, is undergoing rapid growth. The company, which progressed quickly from start-up to scale-up, aims to become the European market leader. The free publicity in the Netflix hit series Emily in Paris recently gave the Kortrijk-based company a boost to help it achieve this goal. “We are constantly looking for ways to increase our efficiency in all areas of our company, including finance. The further automation of our accounting activities frees up more time to focus on strategic issues. In the long term, this will contribute to the realization of our growth ambitions,” says CFO Christophe Willaert.

Since its launch in 2016, the Kortrijk specialist in dog and cat food has already raised capital several times from external funders at home and abroad. During 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 by an average of 80 percent per year and is currently active in 13 countries

With these powerful financial partners, which also serve as an important sounding board, Edgard & Cooper will be able to maintain the steep growth rate of recent years. “Over the past five years, the company has grown by an average of 80 percent per year and is currently active in 13 countries. In 2022, we achieved a gross annual turnover of 65 million euros,” says Edgard & Cooper’s CFO Christophe Willaert.

Switching up a gear

Right from the start, Edgard & Cooper dealt with its payment transactions in Isabel 6, the platform that supports companies in their daily banking transactions. “Due to our international character, we need to have accounts at foreign banks in addition to our own bank. Working with all kinds of different platforms is cumbersome and inefficient.”

The strength of Isabel 6 is the fact that almost everything can be done from a single user interface,” says Willaert. The company’s strong growth has meant that the number of financial transactions at Edgard & Cooper has risen sharply in recent years. “Given our ambitions, I expect this increase to continue. With this in mind, an integrated platform such as Isabel 6 is essential if we are to maintain a global and detailed overview of our cash flows,” continues the CFO.

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

“No comprehensive digital strategy has been mapped out yet: our strategy is somewhat fragmented between individual departments. As a young company, however, digitization and data-driven decision-making are in our DNA. The advantage is that we have little legacy from the past. With every decision we need to make, we have to keep scalability and efficiency in mind.”

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

“After all, the systems that we set up need to support our further growth ambitions within the current structure,” says Willaert. The pet food specialist is focusing on automation and standardization. Given the company’s rapid growth, it is crucial that this involves simple and scalable solutions.

image 3 edgard & cooper

(©Emilie Bonjé)

“Our basic processes are secured within the standard cloud ERP package. We also work with best-of-breed solutions for specific purposes, which can easily be integrated with this ERP package.”

As loyal Isabel 6 users, it was only logical for us to switch to Isabel Connect in 2022. This enables a connection between the multi-banking platform that we have been using for years and our own ERP system. This will allow us to shift up a gear when it comes to further automating and optimizing our accounting activities,” says Willaert.

Efficiency gains

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

“Previously, our payment transactions and accounting processes were too time-consuming. Because Isabel Connect interfaces with our ERP system, we are increasingly able to switch from manual processes to automated working methods. This increases the efficiency and productivity of our finance team,” says Willaert, adding that it also makes things easier to follow up on if someone is sick or on vacation.

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

Automated working methods are also a lot more secure. “The fact that manual intervention is no longer required when downloading and uploading files reduces the risk of both human errors and possible fraud. This is also part of the internal control measures, which is all about minimizing risks to the greatest possible extent,” says Willaert.

Finance as a business partner

As a result of the efficiency gains, Edgard & Cooper’s accounting department is freeing up more time for strategic and qualitative work. “As a finance department, we are naturally expected to provide insights. We transform data and figures into information. This allows us to create value by offering support for both operational and strategic decisions,” explains Willaert.

The new way of working made possible by Isabel Connect was welcomed enthusiastically by his finance team. “As a relatively young company, we have little to no software legacy. Everyone looks to the future with an open mind, and no one is stuck in old systems. All our people have an entrepreneurial mindset. They are open to change, and we encourage them to think along with us about how things could be done differently and better,” says Willaert.

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Finance department at Edgard & Cooper (©Emilie Bonjé)

This growth mentality is stimulated by the fact that the employees themselves help to decide which software is used. “The decision is not imposed on them from above. From the very first demo, the end users are always closely involved.

“After all, they are the ones who will be using the software every day, and a demo makes it immediately clear how the software will impact their work. I think it’s only logical for them to sit around the table from the outset. We compare the options and reach a decision together. This is also good for the adoption of the tool: it makes our people all the more motivated to work with it,” says Willaert.

Great potential

In just a few months time, Isabel Connect was up and running at Edgard & Cooper. “We also have delaware, our regular ERP partner, to thank for this smooth turnaround time. Because Edgard & Cooper was the first company to integrate Isabel Connect with the cloud ERP package, a few modifications were required. The foundations have now been laid for the further international growth of the company.”

“Delaware is also close to us in Kortrijk, which is obviously another great advantage. But the most important thing is that we share the same values: an open-minded spirit and a strong desire to grow. Delaware is the ideal partner to support us in our further growth,” says Willaert.

image 6 edgard & cooper

Dries Dauw, Finance & Business Controlling chez delaware BeLux (©Emilie Bonjé)

Willaert says that the solid partnership will be facing a new challenge in 2023. “We want to take our supplier accounting to the next level. Today, we are already using OCR scanning technology to optimize the processing of incoming invoices. It’s going very well already, but of course things could always be better,” concludes Willaert.

Import bank statements automatically and initiate payments without leaving the familiar environment of your business application: greater ease of use, improved security. Isabel Connect expands your ERP/accounting package or business application with advanced multi-banking functionalities. More info here.

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