Market Lane & Melbourne Coffee Merchant

Fleur, Jason & Jenni

Melbourne is renowned the world over for our incredible coffee. Fleur Studd is one of Melbourne’s most influential coffee professionals; she has helped shape and elevate our local coffee industry, putting it on the world stage.

In 2008, Fleur started Melbourne Coffee Merchants, the first green bean (unroasted bean) importer to focus on sourcing specialty-grade coffee for the Australian market. Melbourne Coffee Merchants has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of coffee in Australia by sourcing the very best beans they can find, and sharing these coffees, and the extraordinary stories of the people behind them, with quality- focused roasters around Australia.

Not long after, in 2009, Fleur partnered with Jason Scheltus and opened Market Lane Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster and retailer dedicated to sourcing, roasting, brewing and sharing exceptional coffee in a sustainable, respectful and responsible way.

Since then, Fleur and Jason have brought on another co-owner, Jenni Bryant, opened nine cafe locations (mostly dotted around Melbourne’s fresh produce markets, specialty food precincts and CBD), started a coffee bean subscription service for at-home coffee drinkers, established a coffee roastery in Brunswick East, and distributed their carefully roasted beans to other cafes, retailers and restaurants, both domestically and overseas.

Why do you love working with Martin & Martin?

There are so many reasons why we love working with Martin & Martin! First and foremost, the entire team are fantastic; they are responsive, proactive and service-oriented, and they genuinely care. They have brought financial rigour to our business practices, and helped us understand and interrogate our numbers and build our financial acumen and confidence.

The things that we value the most about working with Martin & Martin, however, go way beyond the accounting services they provide. Andrew is a trusted confidante and advisor to both Market Lane and Melbourne Coffee Merchants. In many ways, he feels like an extension of our leadership team, with the added bonus of having a unique external viewpoint that helps us zoom out and bring clarity to our thinking and decision-making. He instinctively knows when to push us, and he is an incredible facilitator, supporter and cheerleader. We cannot imagine doing business without him by our side, and nor would we want to!

What makes Martin & Martin different from other advisors or accountants you have worked with previously?

The Martin & Martin team have not only built a deep understanding of our business but also invested time in understanding our values and motivations, and our individual circumstances.

When we catch up, they ask a lot of questions – not only about the business, but about our team, how we are going as individuals and what’s keeping us up at night. It is this kind of intimacy, curiosity and genuine care that brings another whole dimension to our relationship with Martin & Martin and defines what makes them so special as a firm. The advice we receive is informed by a much wider and grounded perspective, and it’s considered, tailored, pragmatic and helpful.

One of the things we’ve valued most over the years is Andrew’s ability to simplify and distil information in order to help us make a decision. He is candid, practical, direct and decisive with his advice, and good at walking us through his thinking and helping us understand his rationale. He also thinks carefully, deeply and at times creatively about our business; he’ll often percolate on issues and come back to us with reflections, thoughts or suggestions after we’ve met.

One of our most memorable experiences with Andrew was when he went way above and beyond to curate and host a series of workshops for Market Lane team members who had expressed interest in running their own business one day.

Some memorable advice you have been given by Martin & Martin?

So much of the advice has been grounded in a much wider conversation around where our team is at, and where we’re at personally in our lives, and what this means in terms of our goals and objectives in running our business. This more holistic approach has helped us make decisions that ensure we’re preserving the things that are important to us, both at work and in the wider context of our unique personal circumstances and life stages.

They have been very good at understanding the values that underpin our business, and worked within this framework to give us advice. This has been great, as it means they understand our essence, what makes us us, and what we are and aren’t willing to compromise on. Having an accountant and advisor that can work within these parameters is so meaningful to us and, in our minds, it’s the key to sustainable growth and success.

Martin & Martin have helped us through many things over the years! Our business has changed a lot, from a single-shop operation when Andrew began working with us over a decade ago, to a business with over 90 staff, nine locations, a busy online shop and a wholesale operation. Martin & Martin has helped us achieve this growth in a sustainable way with very little external funding.

A special project that they helped us with was to bring on Jenni, a long-time employee, as a shareholder of Market Lane. Their advice in helping us structure this in a way that we all understood and felt good about was invaluable.

One of our most memorable experiences with Andrew was when he went way above and beyond to curate and host a series of workshops for Market Lane team members who had expressed interest in running their own business one day. The generosity of this gesture was unbelievable, and our team gained so much from the experience. Many of them have gone on to start their own successful ventures and still reference this course as something that was instrumental in helping them succeed.

When have you leaned on Martin & Martin for advice/help in your business?

All the time! Martin & Martin have been there at every fork in the road and for every milestone. One of the amazing things is that they always make time for us on the phone or a quick meeting, to bash out a problem or talk through an idea.

Throughout the pandemic, the team provided us with an exceptional level of support (both financial and emotional), which we really needed during a very uncertain and volatile time.

Andrew is also very good at helping us create time and space to think and strategise; something that can be hard when you’re caught up in the everyday activities of running a business. He is also fantastic at helping us recognise and celebrate our wins, which is something we greatly value – and I hope he realises the crucial role he plays in those wins, as well!