La Martina was born in 1984 based upon the concept that Polo is not just a sport, but also a lifestyle and culture.
Since its founder Lando Simonetti founded the brand, La Martina has looked to distinguish itself through its exclusivity and prestige. As a result, it has become recognised internationally for both producing the very best technical equipment for the Polo pony, as well as stylish and performance-driven clothing for the Polo player.
At the very heart of the La Martina brand is the desire to promote the sport of Polo by supporting polo events and tournaments across the world in places such as Dubai, UK and Singapore, helping to improve the quality of play at both a national and international level.
La Martina is the Official Supplier to more than 85 international events taking place each year, and numerous Polo Clubs, Schools and Universities. La Martina is also the official clothing and equipment supplier to the prestigious Guards Polo Club and the creator of the Guards Polo Club Collection.
Whilst the brand has been built on supporting the challenges the polo player faces on the field, La Martina is increasingly known across the globe for its stylish clothing collections for men, women and children. The clothing collections take inspiration from the world of Polo and the classical lines and styling that have long distinguished this sport of kings.
As Lando Simonetti says, “Whilst we are opening 10 new stores during 2014, there is a common theme that runs through everything we do at La Martina, a passion for polo, one of the most exclusive sports in the world. We are really excited about the upcoming launch of our new flagship store in London, and believe that our increased global presence will only help deepen further our strategic relationship with HSBC.”
La Martina continues to open stores worldwide with the in-store concept and culture of a house that combines refined English traditions with the rural and rustic style of the Anglo-Argentine community. Whilst Argentina continues to be La Martina’s home market, diversification in terms of supply chain and the quest for new customers has led the company to look overseas for growth.
On the sales side, La Martina is looking to expand its international business in three distinct ways. One strand of this strategy is to achieve organic growth through its own shops in locations such as Marbella and the Middle East, while another is to establish franchise agreements with individual outlets. The final strand is to build strategic alliances with large shopping malls and major department stores.
However, sales outside its own outlets means that La Martina has the credit risk of dealing with unknown wholesale customers in distant locations who have no established trading record with the company. Fortunately, this challenge and the export locations involved are a great match with HSBC's global footprint and its Global Trade and Receivables Finance (GTRF) solutions, which La Martina has been using in various forms since 2003.
In addition to documentary credit, La Martina is currently also benefiting from HSBC's pre-export finance solution, which enable La Martina to receive payment for goods before they are shipped. These solutions give the company assurance that cleared funds have been received before the goods leave port, and improve its cash flow.
More generally, HSBC's trade processing operations in Argentina help La Martina to comply with the country's rigorous trade regulations, while also assisting the company in maximising the efficiency of its international export and import activities.
La Martina's growth has also seen it grow its supply chain internationally to include countries such as Peru and China. For any business, but especially for a high value, high status brand such as La Martina, the reliability and output quality of its supply chain are mission critical. Some of the company's suppliers are specialist artisans, and so working capital availability would normally be a potential issue for them.
However, La Martina has addressed this challenge by using supply chain financing (SCF) solutions provided by HSBC Bank Argentina. This allows suppliers to draw funds from HSBC against approved La Martina purchase invoices before the due date. In return, La Martina has been able to establish long term relationships with key suppliers, and improved conditions, in an increasingly competitive market for raw materials, while also extending its own day’s payable outstanding. A further benefit is that the company gains additional supplier loyalty and prioritisation.
The overall effect from La Martina's perspective is that it incurs no interest cost or working capital load on the period between the shipping of goods and the manufacturing of final product, which is financed by HSBC. This means that in comparison with a standard buyer/supplier relationship without SCF, La Martina benefits from enhanced cash flow and a more robust balance sheet.
In addition to assisting La Martina with financially optimising its sales and supply chains in support of its global business expansion, HSBC has also started providing the company's employees in Argentina with their day-to-day banking services and assisting La Martina's management with their personal banking requirements.
Given that 20% of total La Martina sales are now focused in Asia, and with demand growing in the region, the company is looking to HSBC to provide expert support for its importing and exporting from/to the region. One specific area where this may prove valuable is distributor finance, where smaller franchises may find that their working capital constraints might otherwise limit their potential sales volumes.
An important factor here is HSBC's global footprint and expertise, which is a close match with La Martina's existing and planned activities in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. For example, the bank was able to facilitate the typically demanding process of opening of bank accounts in China and Singapore where La Martina has substantial sales and purchase activity and is able to link the company's domestic operations with its global activities.
In addition to payroll management, another area where HSBC may be assisting La Martina in the future is the migration of its domestic customer remittances from cheque to electronic payments. Some progress has already been made, resulting in reduced processing time, plus improved visibility and reduced working capital. The next stage is the possible training of the company's sales personnel in encouraging customers to switch to electronic payments.
 As witnessed by its growing Asian transaction activity executed via HSBC