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Three Companies that have blossomed during the global pandemic

August 19, 2020
Editor(s): Nigel Pereira
Writer(s): Emy Yoshimura, David Roberts

Since its inception dated back in December 2019, the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe. With infection rates climbing to 200,000 daily there has been a downfall of numerous businesses both local and global alike. However, there are few who have been thriving, with sales peaking and profits doubling. Here is a list of three companies who have bloomed during the time of the virus. 

Afterpay

Afterpay has been the poster child for the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) industry in Australia and has been attracting media attention for the past few years. Founded in Melbourne in 2014, Afterpay later expanded into the US market in January 2018, and then UK market in August 2018. The company’s international expansion has been one of its main drivers of growth in recent years, boasting statistics such as receiving more than 200,000 customers in the UK in the first 15 weeks. 

The initial impact of COVID on the Afterpay saw their share price drop to $8.90 in mid-March, which was the company’s lowest since mid-2018. However, since this point the stock has had a continuous upward trajectory reaching an all-time high of $75.05 in July, indicating the potential for investors to have made a return of over 700%, had they played their cards perfectly.

This growth can in part be attributed to the international shift from in-person shopping to online shopping. In their recent investor presentation, they solidified this idea, detailing that they had experienced a year-on-year 117% increase in active customers and a 112% increase in sales. With Afterpay partnering with online-shopping giants such as eBay, The Iconic and David Jones this impressive growth can undoubtedly be linked to the virus’ impact on the way in which everyday people shop.

NowChem 

This family-owned Nowra-based manufacturing company opened its doors to Australia and International markets in 1977. Now, with over 40 years of supplying high-quality products, NowChem has expanded with “two manufacturing sites, a warehouse and distribution centre administration building”. 

Earlier this year, managing director John Lamont had major concerns when the South Coast bushfires had severely impacted their sales. However, since WHO declared the novel virus a global pandemic in January, NowChem has faced an extraordinary rise in demand that has “completely offset their summer losses”. Orders for hand sanitisers, cleaning products and toilet papers have increased fourfold from Australian and International sources, with over 70,000L of hard surface cleaners being ordered from China. As a result, this rapid increase in production rates has led to additional staff being called to work overtime and caused shortages in their supply chain. 

Shortages of key ingredients have been a worldwide issue for many companies who supply hand sanitizer gels. NowChem had to eventually stop its production of hand sanitizers for hospitals and aged-care facilities in Victoria and New South Wales for a week in April due to the shortage of thickening agents. Lamont said that the otherwise 60,000L of hand sanitiser gel a week could be boosted to 100,000L if the key ingredients were available. 

Despite these obstacles, Nowchem is thriving during a time when most firms are grappling to keep their business afloat. The virus’ impact has certainly boosted their revenue streams and created local jobs for the community, and with their current production rates expected to last for another three months, businesses like NowChem provide hope that our economy can keep turning in an otherwise bearish market.  

Whispir

Whispir is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company from Sydney. Their business model provides a cloud-based communication platform which allows its clients to bring together all their forms of communication into one location. From here customers are provided with numerous features to more effectively manage their communication, whether it be for customer engagement or internal communication.

In their Q4 FY20 investor presentation, Whispir reported impressive figures of a 37.5% growth in Accounting Revenue Retention (ARR) and a Customer Revenue Retention (CRR) of 124.1%, both of which exceeded forecasts. CRR is an important statistic for SaaS businesses because it indicates that for each $1 a customer spends this quarter, on average, results in the same customer spending $1.24 the next quarter. The compounding effect this has makes future growth prospects very promising for Whispir, assuming they can maintain their CRR.

With significant changes to the working environment, COVID has acted as a catalyst for businesses and individuals alike to embrace new technology. Whispir recognised the benefit this had on their business in their investor presentation, stating they had experienced an “increased demand for software to automate and manage COVID-19 communication and Return to Work processes”. This Australian SaaS company is an exciting one to watch, with strong growth prospects and a business model which matches the demands of businesses moving into the future. 

References:

About. (2020). Retrieved 6 August 2020, from https://www.nowchem.com.au/about/ 

Afterpay. En.wikipedia.org. (2020). Retrieved 8 August 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afterpay.

Alexander, H. (2020). Every hand sanitiser maker on earth is fighting for the same materials. Retrieved 7 August 2020, from https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/every-hand-sanitiser-maker-on-earth-is-fighting-for-the-same-materials-20200414-p54jpu.html 

ASX Announcement: Revenue and EBITDA out-performs in FY19. ASX Announcement: Revenue and EBITDA out-performs in FY19. (2020). Retrieved 8 August 2020, from https://www.whispir.com/blog/asx-announcement-revenue-and-ebitda-out-performs-in-fy19.

Clifford, J., & Huntsdale, J. (2020). Hand sanitiser demand lifts Nowra-based manufacturer out of bushfire slump. Retrieved 7 August 2020, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-06/nowra-based-hand-sanitiser-producer-working-overtime/12028684 

Durkin, P. (2020). Melbourne man makes $25m from COVID-19 crisis. Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 8 August 2020, from https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/workplace/melbourne-man-makes-25m-from-covid-19-crisis-20200522-p54vmm.

Manildra and Nowchem use resources to help with COVID-19 fight. (2020). Retrieved 6 August 2020, from https://www.southcoastregister.com.au/story/6716948/manildra-and-nowchem-use-resources-to-help-with-covid-19-fight/ 

Palmer-Derrien, S. (2020). As Afterpay shares go gangbusters, why is COVID-19 driving a buy-now-pay-later boom? – SmartCompany. SmartCompany. Retrieved 8 August 2020, from https://www.smartcompany.com.au/startupsmart/analysis/afterpay-covid-19-buy-now-pay-later-boom/.

Taylor, D. (2020). A Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved 8 August 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronavirus-timeline.html

The CAINZ Digest is published by CAINZ, a student society affiliated with the Faculty of Business at the University of Melbourne. Opinions published are not necessarily those of the publishers, printers or editors. CAINZ, our Partners and the University of Melbourne do not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in the publication.