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    Reed's Clothier, Inc.: Working Capital Policy

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    Case 16: Reed's Clothier, Inc.: Working Capital Policy

    Jim Reed, II had just left a rather unpleasant meeting with his banker, Harold Holmes of First Virginia National Bank. Jim had banked with First Virginia for almost 30 years and his father, who had established Reed's Clothier in 1934, had only banked with First Virginia. Holmes, however, had just informed Jim that the bank would not extend their line of credit any further. In addition, the over due note payable for $130,000 must be paid within 30 days. Jim could riot believe that Holmes had the temerity to tell him he needed to drastically reduce the store's inventory and to strongly suggest an inventory reduction sale. Since its founding, Reed has only held the industry's traditional semiannual sales?in January and July. Although Jim was piqued by this young banker's demand, the note was over 45 days past due, and Jim did not know how he could! make any more than a token payment on the note within the next 30 days.
    Background

    Reed's Clothier was founded in 1934 by Jim Reed shortly after he had completed his military tour. He had hoped to make a career of the military but during the early 1930s the U.S. Army was reduced in size, and there seemed little chance that this trend would change in the near future. Jim Reed had loved the community near his beloved military school, and he decided to open a men's clothing shop that would cater to the numerous Virginia Military Institute (VMI) graduates who lived in and around Lexington, Virginia.

    During the first six years, the store barely made enough money to provide a living income for Jim and his family. But he could see that sales were growing each year and that his primary customer base of ex-VMI graduates was growing. Shortly after 1940, he hired his first additional salesman, Leon Hearn, a 1909 graduate of VMI who had just retired from the army after 30 years of service. After World War II, the business continued to grow and by 1976 annual sales had grown to $800,000. Jim decided to retire in 1976 and turned the company over to his son, Jim Reed II, who had graduated from VMI in 1960 and served eight years in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Vietnam, where he had been wounded. Since 1968, the younger Reed had worked in his father's store.

    In 1976, Reed's occupied the first floor of a three-story building in the heart of downtown Lexington. Reed's used the second floor of the building as the store's office and as a warehouse. The third floor, with an outside entrance and elevator access, was rented to the law firm of Bundy, Hawk, and Harrington. In 1981, Jim decided to expand the retail floor space by refurbishing the second floor as a retail shop and using the third floor as a warehouse and office. The first floor was then also modernized and the store had a very contemporary look and an $880,00 long-term mortgage debt.

    Jim Reed II had slowly increased the amount of inventory in the store with the belief that many sales were lost because an item was not in the store when a customer requested it. Sales did grow steadily each year, topping $2 million in 1994, which bolstered Jim's belief that the increase in sales was directly related to the increase in inventory. In fact, sales had doubled in the last 10 years, but inventory had tripled over that same period of time.
    Current Situation

    The increase in purchases and the interest and principal payments on the mortgage had seriously eroded Reed's positive cash flow in the past three years. The cash crunch had been met through a combination of slowly increasing the line of credit at the bank and, during the last year, not taking the cash discounts offered by the store's suppliers. Reed's purchased about 80 percent of its purchases on terms of 3/10, net 60 and until this year had always taken the cash discount, but its accounts were now almost 40 days past due, and the suppliers were demanding payment with the threat of ceasing deliveries until payment was made. This threat had pushed Jim into going to see his banker with the idea of increasing his line of credit another $100,000.

    In the past, Jim had only dealt with his VMI classmate at First Virginia National Bank, Bob Roberts, and after talking about the good old days at the military school, an increase in the line of credit had always been granted without Bob ever looking at Reed's financial statements. Today, however, had been a different story. Two months ago, Roberts had been promoted to a public relations job with the bank and Jim had been introduced to Holmes, who had asked to see an up-to-date set of financial statements at their first meeting. In today's meeting Holmes had talked about cash flow problems and even mentioned the possibility of financial distress. There had been no easy talk about the past or how great and valued a customer Reed was, only talk about how they could get Reed's on a strong financial footing.

    Holmes had strongly suggested that Jim request the help of a consultant who could help him establish a better inventory system. In addition, the condition for continuing the present line of credit was payment of the overdue note payable within 30 days. Holmes also suggested that Jim reduce his inventories and accounts receivables to the industry averages. (See Exhibits 16.1 and 16.2 for income statement and balance sheet information for the last full fiscal year. Both statements have common-size columns for Reed's and the industry.) Jim had argued that reducing inventory would reduce his sales and make it even harder to become current on his accounts. Holmes had countered this argument by saying that he thought his sales would be reduced less than 5 percent annually, and that by not reducing the inventory through an inventory reduction sale, Reed's would not be able to raise the cash required to meet its financial obligations.

    Exhibit 16.1.

    Reed's Clothiers Income Statement (in 000s)
    Common Size
    Reed's Industry
    Net Sales
    $2,035
    100%
    100%
    Cost of goods
    1,428
    70.2
    67.0
    Gross profit
    $607
    29.8
    33.0
    General & administrative expenses
    374
    18.4
    18.2
    Depreciation & amortization
    32
    1.6
    0.9
    Interest expense
    63
    3.1
    1.2
    Earnings before taxes
    138
    6.7
    12.7
    Income Taxes
    53
    2.6
    4.9
    Net income
    $85
    4.1%
    7.8%

    Exhibit 16.2.

    Reed's Clothiers Balance Sheet (in 000s)
    Common Size
    Reed's Industry
    Cash
    $17
    1.0%
    1.5%
    Inventories
    491
    30.9
    20.0
    Accounts receivable
    413
    26.0
    20.1
    Total current assets
    $921
    57.9
    41.6
    Fixed assets
    670
    42.1
    58.4
    Total assets
    $1,591
    100.0%
    100.0%
    Accounts payable
    $205
    12.9%
    9.3%
    Notes payable
    234
    14.7
    6.4
    Other current liabilities
    18
    1.1
    0.2

    Total current liabilities
    $457
    28.7
    15.9
    Long-term debt
    604
    38.0
    30.4
    Total liabilities
    $1,061
    66.7
    46.3
    Stockholders' equity
    530
    33.3
    53.7
    Total liabilities and stockholders' equity
    $1,591
    100.0%
    100.0%

    Finally, Holmes suggested that accounts receivable be reduced by aggressively collecting its past-due accounts. (See Exhibit 16.3.) This was a particularly sore point with Jim, for he knew he had allowed his collections efforts to lapse in his efforts to increase sales. Jim was afraid that if he aggressively attempted to collect his past-due accounts, these customers might become angry and take their business elsewhere. Reed's sold about 75 percent of its sales on terms of net 30, which were the same terms offered by all its major competitors. As he slowly walked the two blocks between the bank and his store, Reed finally realized that his store was in serious financial trouble and wondered what he needed to do to regain control.

    Exhibit 16.3.

    Reed's Clothiers Aging Schedule
    Days Past Due Amount(000s) Percent
    0-29
    132
    32.0
    30-59
    90
    21.8
    60-89
    89
    21.5
    Over 90
    102
    24.7

    $413
    100.0

    #

    Exhibit 16.5.

    Reed's Clothiers
    Year Inventories Net Sales
    1991
    $378
    1,812
    1992
    411
    1,886
    1993
    452
    1,954
    1994
    491
    2,035
    # What is Reed's cost of not taking the suppliers' discounts?

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    $2.19