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Computer firm seeks out coffee trade.

Computer firm seeks out coffee trade

Not so long ago Southampton was a bustling port which played host to countless cargo and passenger liners. The cargo trade has moved away and the balmy days of luxury cruising has diminished leaving majestic liners such as the QE2 to grace the skyline only occasionally. The activity has become less marine and has largely been replaced by a variety of high-tech enterprises so beloved of Britain's prime minister Thatcher.

Sandwiched in between this and the beautiful wilderness of the New Forest lies the village of Totton, home of BroadOak International.

They are one of several computer software manufacturers in this part of Hampshire, but with a difference. Their product is uniquely geared to the international coffee trade and its name is FASTRAX.

Peter Kenyon-Smith, BroadOak's sales executive, told T&C that the entire package which incorporates physical, fx, terminal & futures, front office trading and back office traffic module plus an accounts module, was first conceived three years ago while working alongside a major New York coffee trader.

The whole idea was the brainchild of John Keeffe the managing director who was previously with cosmetic firm, Estee Lauder, in the U.S. and whose contacts in the food retail and distribution business led him into the world of coffee trading. Indeed food retail systems still form a significant part of BroadOak's business.

The company supplies not only the software but the total package of mid-range IBM hardware too. BroadOak are one of only 150 appointed IBM agents in the UK and this itself implies very strict terms of association. David Harrison, their technical director, is charged with maintaining the IBM standards.

Despite, or perhaps because of, being a small company, (there are only 26 employees) BroadOak has indeed a broad base of operation to the extent of having a systems engineers based both in New York and one as far away as the Dutch Antilles! Peter Kenyon-Smith pointed out however that size had never been a constraint to ability and growth and BroadOak can point to a proud record of 100% growth on turnover each year since its formation in 1984.

He explained in simple terms the benefits of Fastrax as being a system capable of running the trading desks, traffic department and all the administrative and accounting functions, and then combining all these inputs to provide up to the minute situation reports on position, exposure, voyage status, inventory, etc.

Historically traders have laboriously performed their tasks by hand. More recently personal computers have been introduced and some few houses use mid-range models much of whose software is outdated. Kenyon Smith said that BroadOak guaranteed to make savings for any user with a system as little as five years old.

Since one trader does not necessarily have the same needs as the next, each program can easily be modified to suit specific requirements. Peter believes there are virtually no awkward needs that cannot be built into the system. So what's so wrong with existing options? The main complaint Peter hears about existing systems is that they are neither cost-effective nor adaptable. Fastrax, he points out, is only one year old and has been developed as a new product specifically for the coffee trader. Software "wears out"--metaphorically--and BroadOak recognized an opportunity to create a simple and user friendly system which was easily adaptable to individual traders' needs.

BroadOak runs seminars as an introduction to Fastrax on a quarterly frequency in London. The next is scheduled for September and interested parties should contact Peter Kenyon-Smith on (44) 703 872233 or fax (44) 703 872329. It is planned to hold these seminars in New York in the near future and any other location where the demand is sufficient.

PHOTO : John Keeffe at left, and Peter Kenyon-Smith in the entrance to BroadOak's new office complex.

Peter Cockle U.K. Agent
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Title Annotation:BroadOak International
Author:Cockle, Peter
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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