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Seizing the moment: debtor finance boosts beverage brand

BlogCase StudyClient stories By Duncan Khoury – 16 September 2021
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Opportunity strikes for Saintly

Saintly Hard Seltzer (Saintly) is a fast-growing Australian beverage company that can be found in liquor stores, bars and pubs around the country. Geared towards the growing demand for health-conscious alcoholic beverages, they sell Australian made alcoholic sparkling water that’s infused with natural flavours. 

The brainchild of Chilli Marketing founders – Kieron Barton, Christian Barton and Gareth Whittle – Saintly is the next in a long line of successful premium brands built by the trio; alongside Ben Gibson, a hugely experienced and respected liquor specialist in Australia. With an eye firmly on changing drinking habits, they’re looking to make Saintly the number one Australian hard seltzer. 

After securing retail distribution across the Australian market, the Saintly team sought a flexible finance solution to help deliver on their pipeline and prepare for business growth. 

Positioning for growth

The team behind Saintly have an eye for the next big trends. They’ve built multi-million dollar brands as well as acting as advisors and seed investors for several fast-growing brands across Australia, the UK and US. With 16 years of international experience building premium beverage brands, they could see the move towards healthier alcoholic beverages and recognised a gap in the market. 

The Saintly Hard Seltzer team looked to launched their sugar-free, low-calorie Saintly Hard Seltzer range in Australia in 2020, securing major contracts with leading National and Independent liquor groups. But while the founders had identified opportunities and had a plan to capture them, they needed the working capital to fulfil their business growth strategies. 

“We want to be the number one Australian hard seltzer. We built an amazing brand platform and secured distribution across the market, but – given our experience working in fast-growing companies – knew we needed the right finance in place to build on those wins.”

Christian Barton, Founder and Director, Saintly 

Offering extended payment terms would help get their products on the shelves; and with the right finance in place, they could ensure that Saintly was never held back by the cash flow issues that many food and beverage businesses encounter. 

Flexible finance for rapid growth

The team began exploring their finance options with different funders, with an eye on debtor finance (also known as ‘invoice finance’) following. They were referred to Octet by their accountants.

The management team approached Octet about their working capital options to help fund their growth plans. They had to deliver on their new retail contracts, as well as prepare for their planned brand building activity over the key Christmas and summer period. 

“The Octet team really understood our situation and what we were up against. They’re proactive and responsive, which are just the qualities you want in such a critical business partner.”

Christian Barton, Founder and Director, Saintly 

One of the main challenges for the Saintly team was timing. Their growth plan relied heavily on executing during seasonal trading periods, and without access to flexible finance at the right time, they would miss this key window of opportunity. 

“The Saintly team has a proven history of success in building premium brands, and we could see the brand potential in Australia being next on their impressive list. With the right finance in place, Saintly could confidently work with large retailers and build their brand – without having to worry about a lack of cash flow restraining their growth.”

Dan Verdon, Director of Working Capital Solutions – NSW, Octet

Hitting growth targets

Thanks to their new debtor finance facility, the Saintly team could focus on delivering on new contracts while also growing their brand. This included:

  • delivering on large contracts with leading national and independent retailers
  • preparing in time for key trading periods
  • hitting growth targets
  • targeting new channels, NPD and driving distribution opportunities

“Octet made it easy for us. They moved quickly to ensure we had everything in place in time, which helped us go hard and hit our targets over the Christmas and summer key trading period.” 

Christian Barton, Founder and Director, Saintly 

What does the future hold? 

After a year of success and making real inroads into the market, the Saintly team are excited about what the future holds. They’ve recently launched four new innovative products into the Australian market and have an aggressive plan to drive their presence and growth in the market. Saintly will also likely be exploring further flexible finance options with Octet to help fund their business ambitions. 

Words of advice

With the experience of building several successful brands under their belt, the Saintly team have learned the importance of having a strong and diverse working capital base to help fund sustainable business growth. 

“I know it’s a cliché, but cash really is king in your business. You need to look after it and you also need to plan ahead. It’s great to win new business, but what does this mean for your business in 6 to 12 months, and how will you deliver on promises?”

Christian Barton, Founder and Director, Saintly 

“At Octet, we see cash flow as the true backbone of business success time and time again. It helps build business resilience when you have the financial tools at your disposal to move with market demand. And for Saintly, this meant making a move fast to cater to a gap in the market.”

Dan Verdon, Director of Working Capital Solutions – NSW, Octet

By having the right financial tools in place, Saintly were able to capture a lucrative beverage market segment and make a strong head start on the competition. With such solid foundations, they’re now able to confidently pursue their next stage of growth. 


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