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IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

News

  • 3 Dec

Retail Assist awarded ISO20000

Following a recent audit Retail Assist have again successfully achieved the BSi ISO mark, attaining the standard for the new release of the ISO20000 accreditation across the company as a whole. ISO20000 is the recognised IT Service Management Standard that enables businesses to consistently deliver services to a high standard, and is the only standard that confirms ITIL conformity. Dan Smith, Managed Services Director at Retail Assist, said: “This is a recognised ‘gold standard’ accreditation, and Retail Assist was the first retail-only IT services provider to achieve it. We are very proud of the entire team, each person of which was needed to make this possible. Although many businesses achieve this level of certification, many only do so for parts of their business – Retail Assist has achieved it across the entire company, which is a real credit to every one of us.” The Retail Assist team was first awarded ISO20000 in 2008, and is set for their second re-certification in 2013. Each accreditation lasts 3 years, with 2 audits a year. Dan Smith concludes: “Everyone that works at Retail Asst works hard to make this gold standard accreditation possible. We see ISO20000 as an endorsement of our ITIL processes, technology, and people, and believe that its framework will help support the continuous improvement and growth of Retail Assist as a whole.”…
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  • 1 Oct

Vue Entertainment outsources IT Support & Service Management to Retail Assist

Vue Entertainment , one of the UK’s premier cinema chains, has outsourced the management of user support and technical service management in its head office and across its 69-strong cinema estate to Retail Assist. It is a milestone for Retail Assist, marking the company’s entry into the leisure sector. Vue employs 3,000 staff, including 100 at its head office. The objective was to establish a single point of contact across the business for everything IT related, and to formalise all elements of service management by means of structured processes and procedures. Observes Vue Entertainment’s IT Director, Roland Jones: “This new partnership with Retail Assist means our staff will no longer need to think about who they need to call for what. With just one team owning all calls, we can look forward to faster problem resolution and better communication.” Prior to engaging the services of Retail Assist, Vue used a third party for 1st-line user support of its Vista software solution whilst support for other IT systems was provided inhouse. Support services needed to be streamlined, both to reflect Vue’s increased reliance upon IT and to optimise the cost-effectiveness of the operation. The decision was made to put both elements of service management out to tender; a process from which Retail Assist emerged as winner. “We couldn’t help but be impressed by Retail Assist’s Help Desk. They are used to supporting some of the UK’s largest retail businesses,” continues Roland Jones. “We also liked their professionalism, energy and enthusiasm.” Retail Assist pulled out all the stops to get the new service up and running speedily. It achieved this in just 5 weeks after securing the contract, well in time to support Vue’s peak trading over the Christmas holiday period. Retail Assist is providing a Retail Service Desk service between 9am and 12am, 364 days a year, covering 1st-line support and incident management. It is also delivering a full IT service management function encompassing problems, service levels and knowledge, together with service asset and configuration management. Retail Assist is the channel for all IT support across the Vue business, and is also assisting in the day-to-day management of third-party suppliers and their service level agreements. Retail Assist owns all support calls until resolution. Using its specialist Retail Service Desk technology, it provides full visibility of support calls, manages required changes and liaises with internal or external teams providing 2nd-line and 3rd-line support for specific hardware, software and services. Retail Assist’s Managed Services Director, Dan Smith, carries ultimate accountability for the success of the new relationship. Excited to see the company move into the leisure sector for the first time, he states: “The critical success factors of this new relationship will be to use our experience to drive down call volumes and fix as many problems as possible at 1st-line. We need to provide Vue with management information that will enable it to more easily manage IT operations across a large and geographically diverse business.”…
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  • 3 Sep

Cath Kidston looks to Retail Assist to facilitate expansion

Cath Kidston selects Retail Assist Help Desk and Ra-X solution Cath Kidston, the lifestyle brand famous for its original, vintage inspired prints has selected Managed IT Services from Retail Assist to aid the company’s growth plans. The retailer has recently opened three new UK stores in Chester, Nottingham and Meadowhall this summer with a further three UK stores scheduled to open this autumn. Mike Padfield, Cath Kidston’s IT Director comments: “As Cath Kidston’s trading hours are growing longer due to our airport and train station outlets; shop staff needed to be confident that they could continue to receive the high standard of support that they were accustomed to. We needed a trusted partner to support our internal IT team, who were busy launching our new UK and international stores.” Retail Assist has been commissioned to provide a Help Desk service to Cath Kidston stores between 6am and 10pm, 7 days a week. The internal IT team have real time access to Retail Assist’s call management software, meaning complete visibility at all times of any IT issues across the expanding store estate. Retail Assist is responsible for the escalation of any issues to third party suppliers, such Cath Kidston’s Hardware Maintenance provider, Retail Response. Padfield continues: “I have previously worked closely with the Retail Assist team, therefore had complete confidence that their Help Desk would be able to deliver the first rate support required, due to the company’s retail and IT specialism and high levels of first time fix rates.” Cath Kidston has further entrusted Retail Assist to manage global two-way data exchange between its Head Office and overseas partners in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Ra-X is a data exchange solution used by a number of leading retail brands to send and receive product, price, promotion and sales data from store concessions or international locations back to their central operations. Other retailers currently utilising the solution include Aurora Fashions, A|Wear, White Stuff and New Look. Dan Smith, Retail Assist’s Chief Executive Officer – Managed Services explains: “The Ra-X solution is easy to use, secure and scalable; it is able to support rising volumes of retail data. Ra-X minimises risks and reduces costs by requiring no capital outlay, no hardware or software, and no increase in IT headcount.”…
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  • 3 Aug

Aurora Fashions and Retail Assist Shortlisted for Retail Systems Award

The Aurora Fashions and Karen Millen IT department; which has been fully outsourced to Retail Assist since February 2011, has been shortlisted in the ‘IT Team of the Year’ category at the forthcoming Retail Systems Awards. The nomination comes hot on the heels of an impressive 80+ projects delivered by the IT team over the past year alone. Many of the projects focused on underpinning the Group’s platforms to enable an omni-channel approach; and seamless customer experience regardless of the channel the customer chooses to shop. Richard Glanville, CFO at Aurora Fashions comments: “We’re thrilled to be on the shortlist as the innovation and hard work of our IT team has been pivotal to the success of our achievements to date. With the ever increasing speed of new initiatives in the retail world, their support and technical expertise has been invaluable to help keep us ahead of the game.” Alan Morris, Executive Chairman at Retail Assist adds: “We’re very pleased to have been shortlisted for this award with Aurora Fashions and Karen Millen, and look forward to working on future IT projects with them. Key areas of focus will include further omni-channel and international developments.” The event, now into its seventh year, aims to recognise excellence and innovation in the field of information technology within the UK retail sector. The Awards have attracted a growing number of attendees year on year. The winners of ‘IT Team of the Year’ and the other categories will be announced on the evening of Wednesday 24th October. The ceremony is being held at the Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace.…
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Jacques Vert SS12
  • 28 Jul

Jacques Vert Group Plc, Maple Lake and Retail Assist shortlisted for ‘Supply Chain Project of the Year’ award

It has been announced that retailer the Jacques Vert Group Plc has been shortlisted with suppliers Maple Lake and Retail Assist in the ‘Supply Chain Project of the Year’ category at the forthcoming Retail Week Supply Chain Awards. Now in their second year, the awards are dedicated to the retail supply chain network and showcase the ways in which supply chain professionals are collaborating to drive down costs and are endeavouring to fulfil the customer promise across all channels. The shortlisted project involved the implementation of Retail Assist’s supply chain system Merret and Maple Lake’s QuickAssortment merchandise and assortment planning software. The Jacques Vert Group Plc; comprised of the Jacques Vert, Planet, Precis and Windsmoor brands, were the first retailer to market with this integrated solution. John Bovill, Jacques Vert Group Commercial Director observes: “After being “Highly Commended” in the ‘Project Implementation of the Year’ category at the Retail Week Technology Awards earlier this year, appearing on the shortlist at another retail industry awards ceremony is fantastic recognition for the Jacques Vert, Maple Lake and Retail Assist teams involved in the project.” Alan Morris, Retail Assist Executive Chairman comments: “We’re very pleased to have been shortlisted for this award with the Jacques Vert Group Plc and Maple Lake, and look forward to working on future IT projects with them.” The winners of ‘Supply Chain Project of the Year 2012’ will be announced alongside the other winning entrants on the evening of Wednesday 12th September. The ceremony is being held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.…
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  • 10 Jun

Jacques Vert Group Plc, Maple Lake and Retail Assist Highly Commended at the Retail Week Technology Awards

A team comprised of retailer the Jacques Vert Group Plc, with suppliers Maple Lake and Retail Assist were “highly commended” in the highly coveted ‘Investigo Project Implementation of the Year’ category at the 2012 Retail Week Technology Awards. The judges were impressed that the Jacques Vert Group, which manages over a thousand outlets in the UK, Canada and Ireland, had reduced costs, minimised discounting and improved stock management after implementing new QuickAssortment merchandise planning software from Maple Lake and the Merret supply chain solution from Retail Assist. John Bovill, Jacques Vert Group Commercial Director observes: “We’re delighted that our efforts have been recognised, since, as always, any success is a result of a very strong team and people. Our internal staff; in conjunction with external partners Retail Assist and Maple Lake have worked incredibly hard to deliver this project, and to date the transition has been seamless.” This is the third consecutive year that Retail Assist has been recognised in the ‘Investigo Project Implementation’ category at the Retail Week Technology Awards. In 2011 fashion retailer Whistles with suppliers BT Expedite and Retail Assist were named the winners, and in 2010 new womenswear retailer Mint Velvet and Retail Assist scooped the award. Alan Morris, Retail Assist Executive Chairman concludes: “We’re proud that Retail Assist is continuing to work with retailers such as Jacques Vert who are the forefront of omni-channel developments.”…
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  • 3 Jun

PayPal arrives on British high street with Aurora Fashions

PayPal, the company that made paying online faster and safer, has announced that its 15 million UK customers can now use their smartphones to pay at high street retail stores owned by the Aurora Fashions group – Coast, Oasis and Warehouse – as well as Karen Millen. The service will be available in 230 stores, and has been implemented and supported by Retail Assist. The PayPal inStore app, available for Android and Apple iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices, brings the flexibility of online shopping to the high street for the first time. The app provides the customer with a unique barcode and transaction number, which the sales assistant scans to take payment from the customer’s PayPal account. Payments, refunds and discounts are all managed via the app. Paying with PayPal’s inStore app is very secure: the customer enters a PIN to open the app, and no personal or financial information, or money, is stored on her phone. It even works when there is no mobile or Wi-Fi signal. Through the app, the customer can also request a refund in the store for something she’s bought online or on the high street from that PayPal in-store retailer. Cameron McLean, Managing Director, PayPal UK, said, “Today marks the start of a quiet revolution in the way we shop on the high street. We’ve created a simple, secure way to use a mobile phone to pay in your favourite stores. The revolution starts today at Coast, Oasis, Warehouse and Karen Millen. The lines between the online world and high street will soon disappear altogether: research we carried out last year amongst major retailers suggested that 2016 will be the year you won’t need a wallet to shop on the British high street. A phone will be enough.”  “Today’s move also underlines our view that mobile payments don’t need near field communication (NFC) technology to succeed. PayPal’s ‘pay by app’ service works with the phones most of our customers already own. And our retail partner doesn’t have to install new systems to take in-store mobile payments.” “PayPal was created back in 1998 to let people send money by mobile, so today’s announcement is a natural step for us. It builds on the success of our partnership with PizzaExpress, which enables people to pay by mobile at over 400 restaurants across Britain. It’s part of a global move for PayPal, with major in-store partnerships in the United States with The Home Depot and 15 other national US retailers. We handled $4 billion in mobile payments globally in 2011, and expect this to rise to $7 billion this year.” Ish Patel, Group Omnichannel Director at Aurora Fashions, said: “Customers demand more from physical stores: outstanding service and a more personalised experience enabled by new technology. Catering for payment flexibility is a now a crucial part of ensuring we are providing customers with a seamless experience by merging digital commerce with physical retailing.” “Our partnership with PayPal allows us to take the next step in our omnichannel…
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  • 10 Apr

Jacques Vert Group Plc, Maple Lake and Retail Assist shortlisted for ‘Project Implementation of the Year’ award

A project team comprised of retailer the Jacques Vert Group Plc and suppliers Maple Lake and Retail Assist has been shortlisted in the ‘Project Implementation of the Year’ category at the forthcoming Retail Week Technology Awards. The project was driven by the requirement of the Jacques Vert Group Plc; comprised of the Jacques Vert, Planet, Precis and Windsmoor brands, to implement a supply chain solution central to their multichannel growth strategy. John Bovill, Jacques Vert Group Commercial Director observes: “The connectedness of consumers to media and technology has resulted in the need for instant availability of product. It was critical for us to gain clear stock management in order to react and plan better and faster.” Following a tender process, Retail Assist’s supply chain system Merret and Maple Lake’s QuickAssortment merchandise and assortment planning software were selected, making the Jacques Vert Group the first retailer to market with the integrated solution. Nigel Illingworth, Retail Assist Chief Executive Officer of Merret comments: “Whilst many retailers have had multiple selling channels for some time, the expectations of consumers are rising with regards to the functionality of these. Retail Assist was therefore excited to be involved in this project which involved a base of systems born for the multichannel age, rather than modifying traditional single channel supply chain solutions to enable business development.” The winners of ‘Project Implementation of the Year’ and the other categories will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 19th June. The ceremony is being held at the Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace.…
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  • 3 Apr

Aurora Fashions and Retail Assist shortlisted for ‘IT Team of the Year’ award

The Retail Week Technology Awards judging panel has shortlisted Aurora Fashions and Retail Assist in the ‘IT team of the Year’ category. Aurora Fashions is the group behind women’s fashion brands Coast, Warehouse and Oasis. Since February 2011, the Aurora Fashions and Karen Millen IT team has been fully outsourced to retail-only solutions and services provider Retail Assist, who supply a dedicated on-site service. Karen Millen was spun off from the Aurora Fashions group as a separate company in March 2011, however the shared services teams, including the IT department continue to provide support to the brand. Alan Morris, Retail Assist Executive Chairman comments: “The move has maintained continuity of service to the fashion brands and has provided an expansion to the Aurora Fashions internal skill base for delivering changes in the omni-channel retail space.” Over the last 12 months the IT team have delivered some impressive projects including Mobile EPoS, 90 minute delivery, international websites and f-commerce storefronts. A new ‘Ship from Store’ initiative has also been introduced, whereby products out of stock at the Distribution Centre are now dynamically sourced from stores. Mike Shearwood, Aurora Fashions Chief Executive Officer observes: “Technology is there to enhance our omni-channel capabilities. Our IT team provide a truly integrated and innovative service which allows us to maximise the customer experience.” The winners of ‘IT Team of the Year’ and the other categories will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 19th June. The ceremony is being held at the Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace.…
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  • 3 Apr

Mint Velvet’s Multichannel Strategy Contributes to Sunday Times Profit Track 100 ‘Ones to Recognise’ Listing

Womenswear fashion retailer Mint Velvet was this weekend listed in the Sunday Times PwC Profit Track 100 ‘Ones to Recognise’ supplement. Mint Velvet was selected to appear on the 2012 list due to the company’s impressive business model and growth over the past three years. Launched in October 2009, the Mint Velvet business grew rapidly, with sales of £12m for the 2010-11 financial year, quadrupling the trading figures achieved in the company’s first year.  Furthermore, the business now employs a total of 350 people. In 2010 Mint Velvet and Retail Assist gained earlier recognition and won ‘Project Implementation of the Year’ at the Retail Week Technology Awards. This was founded on Retail Assist’s implementation of their supply chain solution Merret for merchandising management, supply chain and warehousing – integrated with partner solution Infinity PoS, integration to the ecommerce channel, and building a complete IT infrastructure for their teams. Stuart Grant, Commercial Director at Mint Velvet comments: “Mint Velvet has continued to successfully expand over the past year and we’re delighted with the recent recognition by the Sunday Times PwC Profit Track 100. The IT solutions we put in place have allowed us to operate as a multichannel retailer from conception. Our outsourced IT partner Retail Assist has supported the entire journey, and are extending this support to work with us on new store rollouts and upgrading our network and hardware in order to meet the needs of the growing business.” Mint Velvet trades from 91 locations including 8 stand alone boutique stores, with an additional 3 openings planned for Spring 2012 in Harrogate, Guildford and Farnham. The company’s eventual aim is to have 20 to 30 stand alone stores in affluent market town locations. In addition, Mint Velvet operates 83 concession stores in premium department stores. The brand can now be found in every John Lewis Fashion store. This is considerable growth from the original 2 solus stores and 14 House of Fraser concessions that Retail Assist initially supported. The team putting the Fast Track feature together were impressed by the fact that Mint Velvet, with the help of Retail Assist, launched as a multichannel business from the outset. Nevertheless, Mint Velvet has continued to adapt to the ever-changing needs of consumers; the business was quick off the mark in launching a mobile optimised website last year. Furthermore, Retail Assist has been deploying tablet devices to the Mint Velvet stand alone boutiques, allowing shoppers in these stores a to browse the full Mint Velvet range and pick up styling tips from mintvelvet.co.uk. Nigel Illingworth, Retail Assist Chief Executive Officer of Merret observes: “Mint Velvet have achieved impressive growth in such a short time frame and this is set to continue. We were delighted to hear they are listed in the ‘Ones to Recognise’ category. The Ecommerce operation is a key area of growth for the business. The Merret solution used for merchandise management, supply chain and warehousing will facilitate ‘collect from store’ sales, meaning that consumers can buy online at…
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