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IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

News

  • 20 Dec

Odin Retail prepares for UK expansion with an IT overhaul from Retail Assist

Odin Retail, the UK and Eire Master Franchise Partner of the iconic Swedish childrenswear brand Polarn O. Pyret (PO.P) has extended its existing relationship with Retail Assist and invested in an overhaul of its IT infrastructure. The partnership between Odin Retail and Retail Assist dates back four years, to when the retailer first launched in House of Fraser concessions in the UK. Odin Retail approached Retail Assist to design and support a number of data interfaces between its Swedish parent company, and the UK department store. Today, in addition to House of Fraser concessions, Odin Retail also boasts a number of solus stores. The recent IT project was driven by Managing Director Mats Nilsson, to support further growth over the next few years. With over 120 stores, the unique kidswear brand dominates its home market. Comments Nilsson: “IT is a major facilitator for Odin Retail’s continued UK expansion, however it cannot be my main concern when growing the business. Working with a trusted provider such as Retail Assist means that I can focus on the areas within the organisation that I need to, confident in the knowledge that I have Retail Assist focusing on my technical infrastructure.” Retail Assist managed the rollout and implementation of Triquestra’s Infinity EPoS software, and will be providing a specialist Retail Service Desk to support this solution. First and second line cover will be provided 7 days a week between 8am until 8pm Monday to Saturday, and 8am until 6pm on Sundays. Retail Assist will also be providing technical support 7 days a week between the hours of 9am and 5.30pm and Data Hosting and Operational Support 24/365. Hardware Maintenance services will be managed by Retail Assist and partner Vista Retail. Ian O’Rorke, Managing Director at Triquestra UK, comments: “I’m very proud that Odin Retail chose Infinity as its preferred EPoS solution, as this builds upon our extensive experience of working with international childrenswear retailers such as Pumpkin Patch.” Concludes Gary Broughton, Retail Assist’s Professional Services Director: “We’re delighted to be providing Odin Retail with additional support. It’s a unique brand, and I believe there is a real gap in the market at the moment for good value, high quality clothing for babies and children. Retail Assist is the ideal partner for any international retailers who are considering entering or expanding in the UK market, as we’ve got the knowledge, expertise, and experience to support them going forward.”…
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  • 9 Dec

Merret to be showcased at NRF’s 100th annual Convention and Expo

9th – 12th January 2010, Javits Convention Center, New York City From 9th to 12th January, the retail industry will come together for the National Retail Federation’s 100th annual Convention and Expo. Since 1911, retail executives searching for the most effective solutions, tools and technologies have made NRF’s Big Show their first port of call; and since 2009 they have been able to find Merret, Retail Assist’s integrated supply chain solution there. This year, Merret will be showcased on the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTs) Pavilion with SPI, Retail Assist’s North American implementation partner. Leading innovators such as IBM will also be exhibiting on the Pavilion. Merret was first launched into the US market two years ago as an end-to-end tool that covers all aspects of stock control, retail supply and business information. Today, SPI deliver the associated services including Business Analysis, Project Management, Development and Implementation, Training, Hosting and 24/365 Support. Comments SPI’s Jeff Meaux: “It’s been an exciting year for SPI and Merret. We’ve run a very successful US marketing campaign in conjunction with Retail Assist, which has generated some interesting opportunities. We look forward to developing these further in 2011.” “We always enjoy Retail’s Big Show” adds Retail Assist’s Managing Director, Alan Morris.“Last year 18,500 industry professionals attended, and this year’s anniversary exhibition should be bigger than ever. Retail Assist and SPI will be joining over 500 vendors, but we’re confident in Merret’s competitive advantage and appeal to the US market.”…
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  • 2 Nov

Jacques Vert Overhauls IT Systems

Fashion retailer Jacques Vert is about to undergo a major overhaul of its IT systems, following significant growth in its online sales channels and increased focus on multi-channel retailing. Jacques Vert will implement both Retail Assist’s supply chain ERP solution, Merret, and Maple Lake’s QuickAssortment merchandise and assortment planning software early in 2011. This will be part of a significant investment in its online platform and other systems over the next 18 months. Managing multiple brands (Jacques Vert, Planet, Precis Petite and Windsmoor) across various regions, sizes and styles means that Jacques Vert is constantly having to analyse a complex range of products, through over a thousand outlets in the UK, Ireland and Canada, as well as via web stores for each brand. The company also plans to launch a clearance website. Merchandise planning and supply chain management are vital to Jacques Vert, as the group’s products are mainly supplied from the Far East and Europe, and either delivered to its central warehouse in the UK for redistribution, or direct to stores in Canada. The process is made more complicated by different countries and sales channels generally requiring a varying mix of products. “We need to be more reactive and operate a more effective supply chain to remain ahead of the competition,“says Ian Johnson, Group Finance Director at Jacques Vert.”This means continually monitoring trends and identifying best sellers so that popular lines can be quickly replenished throughout the season.” By using more sophisticated technology, the retailer anticipates reducing lead times by working more closely with suppliers and sharing more accurate sales data. Currently, planning for new lines is done a long time in advance, with limited repeat buys. Johnson says that the company has been relying until now on largely manual processes and complex spreadsheets for merchandise planning, and an ERP legacy system for supply chain management. He says that the Maple Lake and Merret software will feed data directly into its other IT systems, giving a single cohesive view to help improve performance management and financial reporting across the business. The business also envisages significant efficiencies in store replenishment and warehouse management. Retail Assist’s product director, Nigel Illingworth, says:”Merret will provide Jacques Vert with a full suite of supply chain and warehouse management software, enabling store staff and concessions to check stock levels and organise inter-branch transfers whenever necessary.” Bob Jolley, group commercial director at Maple Lake, adds:”Many specialty retailers are now opting for ‘best of breed’ solutions like ours, and Merret, which can be easily integrated into the business. Maple Lake and Retail Assist are jointly working with other leading multi-channel retailers in the UK, and we look forward to providing clear business benefits to these clients.“…
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  • 2 Oct

Retail Assist passes ISO20000 audit

Following a recent audit, British Standards have confirmed the continuation of Retail Assist’s ISO accreditation. ISO20000 sets out best practice for IT service providers, and is the only standard that confirms ITIL conformity. Dan Smith, Managed Services Director at Retail Assist comments: “Retail Assist was the first retail-only IT services provider to meet this ‘gold standard’, and we have our dedicated team to thank for our continued success. One in six members of staff were interviewed over three days, so the audit was very thorough, confirming that everybody in the company works to an exceptional standard in their day-to-day roles“. The Retail Assist team were first awarded ISO20000 accreditation in 2008 for the systematic approach that they took in managing IT services and products. Since 2008, Retail Assist’s offering has expanded to encompass the company’s Merret supply chain solution being launched in the US. Dan Smith concludes:”At a time when we are expanding our operations, we feel it is particularly relevant to demonstrate our adherence to an auditable standard that is accepted industry-wide, and internationally. We see ISO20000 as an endorsement of our people, ITIL processes and technology, and believe that its framework will help support the continuous improvement of Merret and delivery of projects and managed services“.…
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  • 2 Oct

ASOS selects Merret from Retail Assist to support growth

ASOS, the UK’s largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer, has selected Retail Assist’s Merret supply chain solution to replace its core buying and merchandising systems. The new system covers product creation, purchase order management, supplier management, stock valuation, markdowns and promotions. ASOS has invested in a strategic programme to replace its back-office systems, as the company’s IT Director, Dan West, explains: “We’re growing at a phenomenal pace. Our systems need to be capable of underpinning our business strategies, including international expansion, ensuring we maintain our competitive edge. Whilst in-house systems have met our needs to date, we now need stronger and more consistent controls and processes. This is a great opportunity to re-map our processes for the benefit of the business.” ASOS has been systematically replacing its core systems with “best of breed” solutions and selected Merret to enhance the control and visibility of its supply chain. Observes Retail Assist’s product director, Nigel Illingworth: “In Merret, ASOS saw a functionally-rich system that will instantly improve control and visibility. Our integrated solution will fully support ASOS’ aggressive growth plans.” Dan West describes why Retail Assist were chosen: “We believe that they are capable of building solutions that make a positive contribution to operations, customer service and the bottom line. We also feel comfortable with the company culture, and are looking forward to building a partnership with them.” The project is underway to deliver a Merret MMS solution that includes development of data interfaces to integrate with ASOS’ suite of applications. Retail Assist will also provide project management and implementation services. Adds Nigel Illingworth: “ASOS will gain in lots of ways from using Merret, including promotion management options and greater flexibility in managing multiple drop dates for intake. Supplier management will also improve, as Merret’s method of generating SKU-level POs based on pre-defined criteria is fast and efficient. And by further developing Merret to meet the needs of ASOS, we too will benefit from our new partnership in terms of enriching our online retailing solution.“…
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  • 2 Aug

Mint Velvet and Retail Assist shortlisted for ‘IT Project of the Year’ at the 2010 Retail Systems Awards

The judging panel of this year’s Retail Systems Awards have shortlisted one of our recent implementation projects, completed in partnership with women’s fashion retailer, Mint Velvet, in the category ‘IT Project of the Year’. The achievement is particularly timely, as the awards ceremony will be held just over a year after the Mint Velvet business was launched. Retail Assist were engaged by Mint Velvet last June with the brief that all IT systems, software/hardware, infrastructure and communications go live on 1st October to run a fully multi-channel business. Retail Assist planned the optimum solution and delivered a nine-month project in three months. Stuart Grant, Commercial Director at Mint Velvet comments: “After winning ‘Project Implementation of the Year’ with Retail Assist at the Retail Week Technology Awards earlier this year, being shortlisted for another highly-regarded retail industry award is superb recognition for the teams involved. Mint Velvet’s initial trading exceeded expectations and, as a result, we have stepped up our store roll out plans. The Retail Assist solution not only allowed us to achieve start-up, but also to open further waves of stores very easily. We have a platform that’s scalable for further growth.” Alan Morris, Managing Director at Retail Assist concludes: “Appearing on the shortlist at these prestigious industry awards will be a real honour, and I’m very much looking forward to the awards ceremony. Mint Velvet have had an extremely successful first year and we’re delighted to be recognised alongside them.” The winner of ‘IT Project of the Year’, and the other Retail Systems Awards will be announced on 28th October.…
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  • 2 Jul

REISS, replaces Business Objects with BOARD

Multi-national Fashion retailer REISS, has contracted with Retail Assist to implement BOARD to replace Business Objects and deliver integrated reporting, analysis, budgeting, merchandise planning and forecasting. REISS becomes the latest organisation in a growing portfolio of BOARD clients to oust Business Objects and other legacy reporting tools. Hugh Raeburn, Head of IT at REISS, comments: “REISS is a constantly-evolving fashion brand, with a myriad of systems across the business. We wanted a single strategic solution to pull together information from all of our data silos. With BOARD’s unique solution, we can also manage the addition of new data sources quickly and easily, providing everyone with the same consistent view of information across the company.” REISS chose to engage with Retail Assist, to implement the BOARD solution because of the company’s expertise in the retail technology sector and its experience in optimising the use of BOARD within the industry. In addition to its UK presence, REISS has stores in the USA, France, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Ireland and China. It plans to grow its current estate from 90+ to 250 stores. As a springboard for greater efficiency and profitability and to support its expansion, the retailer needed improved visibility across the business that was more comprehensive and simpler to obtain. BOARD’s simple “programming-free” environment will support REISS’s desire for end- user “self- sufficiency” giving business users the freedom to create their own reports with drill-down analyses. Furthermore, BOARD will also allow REISS to control and manage their Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting process thus creating greater efficiencies across the supply chain. Dominic Policella, Managing Director BOARD UK, adds “Traditional Business Intelligence systems have dominated the Retail industry. Often these are difficult to use, disconnected from Corporate Budgeting & Planning processes and simply provide static reports, with little or no business analysis. I am delighted that REISS have selected BOARD as their single Performance Management platform and join a growing customer base of over 2500 clients worldwide.”…
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  • 10 Jun

Mint Velvet and Retail Assist Win Retail Week Technology Award

The judging panel of this year’s Retail Week Technology Awards awarded our Mint Velvet IT launch project “Project Implementation of the Year” at a glittering ceremony at the London Hilton last night. New women’s fashion retailer, Mint Velvet engaged us as its outsourced IT partner last June with the brief that all IT systems, software/hardware, infrastructure and communications go live on 1st October to run a fully multi-channel business and to meet their launch into House of Fraser. We planned the optimum solution and delivered this project in three months. It was a tough category – Mint Velvet and Retail Assist were up against Net-a-Porter, Boots, Shop Direct Group with ATG, Wilkinson with Retail Manager Solutions, Blacks Leisure Group with Sage, Argos and Smythson with PCMS. However the judges were impressed that, despite this pressure and the scale of the undertaking, our core team delivered – on time and 17% less than the original budget – a robust end-to-end retail IT and communications infrastructure. Comments Stuart Grant, Commercial Director at Mint Velvet: “Winning this award is a testimony to the effort put in by the Mint Velvet and Retail Assist project team who were focused and 100 percent committed to hitting our opening date. Without their supremely professional approach throughout the project, I seriously doubt we’d have got there. We’re very proud to have been recognised by this prestigious industry award in what has undoubtedly been the toughest 12 months for retail in a decade.” Alan Morris, Managing Director of Retail Assist concludes: “Winning ‘Project Implementation of the Year’ means a lot to us, as the Retail Week Technology Awards are renowned for setting the standard that the industry follows. We are delighted that all our hard work and the vision of the Mint Velvet’s management team has been rewarded. Their talent is just what the market needs right now, and this award-winning launch does not mark the end of our partnership – we’ll continue to pull out all the stops to make Mint Velvet a resounding success over the coming months and years.“…
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  • 2 Jun

Retail Assist Sponsor ‘Supply Chain Excellence’ Award

Retail Assist have today announced their sponsorship of the “Supply Chain Excellence Award” at the 2010 Retail Week Technology Awards. Shortlisted for this award are ASOS, Boots, Scotts&Co, and Argos. The Retail Week Technology Awards recognise the retailers and their suppliers who display excellence and innovation in their deployment of technology to make substantial improvements in their business. Nigel Illingworth, Product Director at Retail Assist comments: “Retail supply chain is a particular area of interest to us, as Merret our integrated supply chain solution has previously won and been nominated for a number of prestigious industry awards. We therefore understand and know how important the award will be to the companies on the shortlist – I’d like to take this opportunity to wish them luck”. Separately, one of Retail Assist’s most successful recent projects, completed in partnership with new women’s fashion retailer, Mint Velvet, has been shortlisted for the award category “Project Implementation of the Year”. The winners of the Retail Week Technology Awards will be announced on 15th June at a ceremony in London. Alan Morris, Managing Director at Retail Assist will be presenting the “Supply Chain Excellence Award” to the successful retailer. Alan concludes: “Being nominated for one award and sponsoring another should make this an exciting night for us. A number of highly successful retailers have been shortlisted in the “Supply Chain Excellence” category; any one of them would be a worthy winner. Ultimately the decision is now in the hands of the judges – I’m interested to see what will happen”.…
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  • 12 May

Retail Assist wins Crew2000 Merret supply chain and Service Desk contract

Crew2000, a subsidiary company of Yorkshire-based Haddow Holdings plc, and a supplier of “intimate apparel” to high street retailers, has awarded a contract to Retail Assist for the supply of its Merret ERP solution and provision of an outsourced Service Desk. The new software solution and its associated services have recently gone live. Explains Tristan Haddow, managing director of Haddow Holdings plc: “With our Crew2000 business primarily focused on wholesale supply, we wanted to facilitate direct trading with one of our most important clients, a leading health and beauty retailer. To achieve a more efficient way of supplying them with our swimwear, we needed a supply chain solution to provide MMS & WMS functionality. Typical functions being price and product setup, intake, initial allocation, pick by store, despatch to store, stock adjustments and replenishment.” Crew2000 has taken a version of Merret branded as “Out of the Box”, but only switched on the initial functionality that they require at day one. Explains Retail Assist’s product director, Nigel Illingworth: “This is an integrated merchandising and warehousing ERP system, pre-configured to meet the needs of medium-size and multi-channel retailers and allowing for fast deployment. It is a real-time, multi-outlet, multi-channel solution, covering all areas of stock control, retail supply and business intelligence. It has multi-currency and multi-country capabilities for international retail and is fully scalable.” In terms of services, Retail Assist has facilitated the setup of a VPN comms solution with Crew2000 and as for support, Retail Assist will provide Crew2000 staff with a Service Desk and problem-solving service for: The Merret application Interfaces to and from external parties and systems such as Crew2000’s incumbent wholesale system, STYLEman, including those interfaces which Retail Assist has developed Hardware components housed in the Retail Assist Data Centre in Northampton This level of support will work alongside the IT operations already in place in Haddow’s Bradford headquarters. The first point of contact for Crew2000 staff will be the Retail Assist Service Desk, who will manage all calls through to completion.…
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