Austral Fisheries reaping the benefits of ERP software

Austral Fisheries needed remote access to a real time environment to enable its sales team to better serve an expanding customer base.

“The fishing part of our business is a 24/7 operation and is highly regulated. Coupled with our seafood trading operation, which has to be managed dynamically, we need business tools that can handle this sort of pressure,” said Greg Johnston, CFO and Company Secretary of Austral.

Austral Fisheries is one of Australia’s leading commercial fishing companies. The company’s Greentree system has been in use for more than a decade, supported by Greentree Partner, Addax Business Solutions, and has proved its flexibility by scaling up to meet the company’s growth and changing business requirements.

Recent developments included moving Greentree to the cloud and equipping Austral’s sales staff with Greentree-4Sales, for greater efficiency on the move.

Hosting Greentree in the cloud means data is available instantly to management and staff wherever they are as long as they have an internet connection. Thanks to Greentree4Sales, they also have customer details at their fingertips.

Sales staff can conclude deals, update the system and provide documentation on the spot, and management has a live view of business performance.

“It’s a good, stable all-round system that has met our special needs with some innovative approaches,” said Johnston “When we said we needed to make some changes, Greentree was able to step up and respond. The Addax team has a comprehensive understanding of Greentree, providing solid support and confidence that problems can be resolved quickly.”

Austral consists of three distinct businesses, each with its own challenges:

  • Its Southern Ocean operation runs four deep-sea fishing vessels, catching mostly Toothfish. Its focus is to value-add the catch and create a market for premium fillets for the domestic and export markets.
  • Its prawn operation runs 10 trawlers – another value-added domestic and export market. Austral has also developed direct relationships with the main Australian supermarkets for this catch.
  • Seafood Solutions is Austral’s seafood trading arm, mostly selling imported products from sustainable overseas fisheries to the Australian wholesale market. It accounts for over a third of Austral’s turnover and it’s the growth of this operation which put new demands on Austral’s Greentree system.

“This is a very competitive business that requires tight control of working capital and good customer service,” explained Johnston.

“With seafood trading, you have to be able to conclude business on the spot. You don’t want to tell the customer you’ll get back to them, or promise them product only to find there’s no stock available.”

Keeping up with currency, regulatory requirements In Greentree4Sales, Austral has found a tool that is invaluable for its sales team, who can now access Greentree on the move via mobile devices.

“Our sales reps need live information at their fingertips,” said Johnston.

“They need to be able to conclude business when visiting customers. Greentree4Sales means they can process orders and provide copies to the customer before leaving their premises. They don’t have that backlog of paperwork and they can even do special deals right there and then.”

With the strict regulatory requirements around commercial fishing, any delay due to bad documentation means valuable consignments can be left sitting on the docks. Approvals & Alerts ensures that stock levels – and customer credit limits – are checked before sales are finalised, and that all the necessary documents are complete.

Austral buys and sells in different currencies such as NZD, Yen, Rupee, USD and Euro. Using the Foreign Currency module, each supplier’s accounts is tracked in a foreign currency. Invoices and other transactions are entered, processed and reported based on this currency, with a range of reports which show the unrealised exchange rate gain or loss.

“Greentree manages currency in both sides of the ledger well and makes it easier for us,” said Johnston.

Cloud option saves costs Austral’s engineering depot in Cairns needs to track costs and manage the refit of its prawn trawlers. Using the web connection, the remote users have complete online access to Greentree.

“They can process supplier invoices, payroll details, and update the general ledger just once, and we will have all the information live on one system,” said Johnston.

“There’s no double entry and one integrated system gives senior executives access to live and timely results, so business performance is constantly maintained and areas for improvement are highlighted.”

Greentree’s ability to operate comfortably in the cloud has also benefited Austral, removing the need to upgrade its on-premise servers. AOD, the cloud arm of Addax, handled the move speedily and efficiently.

“This is an excellent cost saver,” Johnston said.

“The AOD team has been great in setting up the hosting service and we expect this too will be a long-term relationship.”

With the expansion of its trading operation and the need for flexibility in the face of changing local and international markets and regulations, Austral Fisheries is confident that Greentree will continue to grow with it.

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