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The Importance of Working Capital Management |  November 15, 2016 (0 comments)

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Omaha, NE—In all industries and especially in retail jewelry, efficient Working Capital is essential.  Working Capital is defined as the difference between Current Assets and Current Liabilities.

One measurement of a Company’s health is the Current Ratio, or Ratio of Current Assets to Current Liabilities. For example, if your balance sheet shows total Current Assets including cash of $30,000 and total Current Liabilities including current portions of long term debt of $15,000, then your Current Ratio is 2:1.  Bankers look to this ratio as an indication of balance sheet liquidity, assuming that the conversion of current assets to cash can be used to repay Current Liabilities.  Therefore, Current Assets in excess of Current Liabilities has the appearance of liquidity. Balance sheet liquidity is considered insufficient at less than 1:1, adequate between 1:1 and 2:1, and very liquid over 2:1.

The management of a Company’s primary Working Capital accounts of Inventory, Accounts Receivable (A/R) and Accounts Payable (A/P) is required to ensure sufficient cash to meet operating and debt requirements. A Company’s minimum Working Capital requirement is defined as A/R Plus Inventory Less A/P.  With an Inventory of $1,000,000, A/R of $50,000 and A/P of $250,000, minimum Working Capital required would be $800,000.

Well-known “Super Stores” benefit from negative Working Capital with no Accounts Receivable, as all sales are done on a cash basis; Inventory is “just in time” burdening vendors to maintain goods for delivery on demand to various store locations, and then extending Accounts Payable terms for these goods.  Negative Working Capital allows for the accumulation of cash from sales and minimum cash tied up in Inventory due to the trade payment terms.  These Super Stores have the power of demand over the vendors, looking to sell goods to them.

Independent businesses need to balance funding their Working Capital accounts with their cash needed to repay short term obligations, such as rent, payroll, debt servicing, and other operating expenses. Optimal Working Capital management ensures having sufficient cash to continue operations and satisfy short-term debt obligations.

For independent retail jewelry companies, Inventory is not often converted to cash at the same rate that short term liabilities are due.  Aged or overstocked Inventory is responsible for a lack of liquidity including cash necessary to repay obligations.

Unlike other industries that keep only enough inventory on shelves for short- term demand, most jewelers feel the need to offer many styles, sizes and price points while mixing fashion items and staples.  A reasonable test is to compare the value of Inventory to the Cost of Goods Sold in a twelve-month period. Inventory levels exceeding twelve months of COGS implies that in-store stock is sufficient to supply an entire year’s worth of sales or more; therefore, no longer a “liquid asset”.  For example, inventory of $1,000,000 and 12 month COGS of $500,000 implies 2 years of inventory on the shelves.  Inventory of $1,000,000 and 12 month COGS of $2,000,000 implies 6 months of inventory on the shelves.

It is vital for the health of independent companies to manage their inventory levels, which in turn prevents borrowing excessively to support Working Capital needs.

A better test for jewelry retailers is to use the “Quick Ratio” which is similar to the Current Ratio but excludes Inventory from the equation. Anything better than a 1:1 Quick Ratio will show that the business has the ability to repay short-term obligations.  When plotting this over time, a business can see if this ratio reveals improving or declining liquidity, then owners can take corrective action thereby employing Working Capital Management.

For help determining your Optimum Inventory Level or for strategies to clear Aged Inventory, Generate Cash, and improve Working Capital Ratios, please reach out to us, and we will help you create a healthy financial picture.

Phyllis Casey brings over 25 years of experience in credit risk management, client relations, business development and global commodity trading. Graduating from Providence College with a major in mathematics and economics, Casey started her career at Fleet National Bank’s Precious Metals Group in Providence, RI. As a senior metals trader, she developed hedging and financing strategies for commercial users of precious and base metals servicing jewelry, electronic, silverware and chemical industries. 

After completing commercial credit training, Casey became a business development officer, calling on owners and managers of both private and public companies.  She went on to serve as a commercial relationship manager at Sovereign Precious Metals, managing credit, precious metals consignment and hedging facilities for large corporate, middle market, small business and retail companies. Recently, she served as vice president in commercial credit for First Citizens Bank in South Carolina, analyzing financial statements and structuring credit facilities for the bank’s commercial clients. With both a commodity trading and commercial credit background, Casey offers a unique perspective while mentoring Edge Retail Academy’s clients. Contact her at (843) 813-6638 or phyllis@edgeretailacademy.com.

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