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Sodexo is a global company that provides an assortment of services to other businesses, including catering, facilities maintenance and management, and employee benefits. Pre-Covid, the company’s North America region brought in more than $10 billion in annual revenue by enabling organizations in industries such as healthcare, education, oil and gas, and sports and leisure to focus on their core competency. Within a hospital, for example, Sodexo might provide cafeteria services, patient portering, and concierge services, as well as operating the gift shop.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on some of the industry sectors Sodexo serves. The company’s North American treasury team and payment shared service center were already re-evaluating their payment processes. “Years ago, the industry norm was to grant clients 30-day payment terms, and we generally had slightly longer terms to pay our vendors,” says Marc Blass, vice president and treasurer of Sodexo North America. “As our business grew, the model generated working capital for us. That model started changing well before Covid—many of our larger global clients saw an opportunity to extend their terms as consolidation in our industry increased competition.”

But the pandemic didn’t help. “We continue to feel pressure,” Blass adds. “Some large, global clients are asking for extended terms, and carrying those receivables puts pressure on our working capital. … As the money coming in started to come more slowly, we needed to find ways to slow down the rate at which money was going out.”

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Meg Waters

Meg Waters is the editor in chief of Treasury & Risk. She is the former editor in chief of BPM Magazine and the former managing editor of Business Finance.

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