IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

2009 News

Mint Velvet IT Outsourcing
  • 20 Nov 2009
Mint Velvet appoints Retail Assist as its outsourced IT partner
Mint Velvet , the new womenswear retailer, has engaged Retail Assist to provide a Managed Solution to include its Merret merchandising and warehousing solution, Triquestra’s Infinity PoS, plus complete IT support service. Mint Velvet is headed up by former Principles brand director Liz Houghton and is backed by non-executive directors Peter Davies (Chairman), Chris Inman and Richard Sims who were founding directors of Rubicon Retail, the former owner of the Principles and Warehouse brands, which they sold in 2005. The Managed Solution developed for Mint Velvet delivers the foundations and capabilities to support a growing business from the outset, and combines all the required hardware, software and services in a single package and integrated with store EPos and website. For Mint Velvet, Retail Assist provides: Hosted and managed Data Centre Implementation and support of Triquestra’s Infinity PoS on Toshiba Tec hardware plus Retail Assist’s Merret supply chain as an end-to-end solution Integration with BT Fresca to support Mint Velvet’s e-commerce site First and second level Help Desk services to store staff, covering a range of retail applications, plus support for a BT communications solution Set up and maintenance of the systems infrastructure for head office and stores Core domain infrastructure including email, Microsoft Office applications, file and print servers Stuart Grant, Commercial Director explains; “Retail Assist was our natural first choice for IT outsourcing. Having worked with the team before, we were confident they had the knowledge and experience to deliver a complete managed service to a very tight deadline. We launched the Mint Velvet website and 14 concessions during October and have just opened our first stand alone stores in Windsor and Chichester. The implementation was planned and delivered from scratch within 3 months – a remarkable achievement. We expect to get clear business benefits from having this Managed Solution as part of the Mint Velvet business.” Mint Velvet’s launch plans left no margin for error or delay in project timescales. The new business planned to be multi-channel from day one, with an online store playing a key part. Alan Morris, Managing Director of Retail Assist concludes: “We are delighted to be working with Mint Velvet’s management team. Their talent and vision is just what the market needs right now, and we’ll be pulling out all the stops to make Mint Velvet a resounding success over the coming months and years. We’re confident our end-to-end Managed Solution will give Mint Velvet a complete and cost-effective resource for their retail-essential technology.”…
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Adams IT Outsourcing
  • 10 Nov 2009
Adams renews contract for a further 5 years
Retail-only solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, has announced that its long-standing client, Adams Kids, has renewed its IT outsourcing relationship in a £multi-million, 5-year contract. Early last year, retail entrepreneur and former Stead & Simpson Chairman, John Shannon, purchased 270 of Adams Kids’ UK stores and 100 international outlets. Comments David Carter-Johnson, Chief Executive of Adams Kids: “Retail Assist has a long history of working with our company as a trusted partner and we consider them to be an integral part of our business. We see Retail Assist playing a valuable part in our growth plans for the future.” Retail Assist has worked with adams kids since 1999 in all areas of system support and development. Its Managed IT services contract includes 24/365 application level support in merchandising, warehousing and finance, plus Help Desk, EPoS, PC and network support, desktop support, offsite data centre hosting and overnight schedule support. It also provides the business with store development, disaster recovery, project management and PCIDSS compliance services. Alan Morris, Retail Assist’s Managing Director, says: “We’re delighted to have reached this new agreement with Adams Kids. It’s very positive news for Retail Assist. It reinforces our relationship with a key client and gives us a platform on which to move forward.”…
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Harvey Nichols
  • 10 Sep 2009
Harvey Nichols renews out-of-hours support contract
As its initial 3-year contract for an out-of-hours Service Desk comes to a close, international luxury lifestyle retailer, Harvey Nichols, has renewed its service for a further three years. We are providing cover during the early mornings and the early to late evening period on 6 days a week, with a full day of support provided on Sunday. Calls are directed to our Call Analysts who are trained to immediately act upon major IT issues. A 2nd-line support service is also provided to address more complex EPoS problems. The support service covers both Head Office staff and those working in the retailer’s six stores in the UK and one in Dublin, two stand-alone restaurants and the warehouse. Support is also provided for many hundreds of EPoS tills and PCs across these locations.…
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  • 6 Sep 2009
Jane Norman outsources out of hours Service Desk
Retail Assist provides Jane Norman with out of hours store support & operations monitoring Successful young fashion brand, Jane Norman, has engaged retail-only solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, to provide an out-of-hours Service Desk to support its 101 UK stores. The contract also includes a weekend remote operations monitoring service for its head office servers. The growth of the company meant that the small internal IT team wanted to find a way to provide a round-the-clock service to the shops without growing the team further. Philip Boggis, Jane Norman’s IT Director explains the background to the contract: “We wanted to reallocate our IT Support team to strategic projects rather than cover the out-of-hours support. So we looked for a partner to provide a quality out-of-hours Service Desk whilst our internal resources continue to cover normal trading hours.” Boggis continues: “At the same time, we’ve opted to have Retail Assist remotely monitor our key event schedules over the weekends including store polling, batch job processing on our Mercatus Merchandise Management System, and other key overnight batch processes.” Retail Assist secured the contract because it demonstrated a high first-level fix rate and achievement of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) across its customer base, and because it offers specialist knowledge of Store 6.0 EPoS. Retail Assist’s 24 x 7 dedicated Data Centre will deliver the remote monitoring service that Jane Norman required for its overnight schedules and batch processes throughout the weekend. Dan Smith, Managed Services Director at Retail Assist, is responsible for the client relationship. He says: “We will work with Jane Norman’s internal IT team and provide a fast and reliable service. Our Service Desk will have remote dial-in capabilities to take control of individual tills so it can fix more problems at first call.” “For both Service Desk and remote monitoring, Jane Norman is going to benefit from tapping into our Shared Services model. They’ll find they can deliver the same level of service to their store estate during unsociable hours, plus they’ll benefit from our flagging up any overnight processing issues,” he adds. From now on, any disruption at point-of-sale caused by issues with store systems will be minimised as staff enjoy the same level of support, regardless of the time of day. This contract builds on Retail Assist’s experience in providing out-of-hours Service Desk services for companies such as Harvey Nichols. Its remote monitoring services are used by retailers such as Selfridges in the UK and A|Wear in Dublin.…
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Nottingham Head Office - Retail Assist
  • 5 Aug 2009
Retail Assist is moving
Due to continued expansion and the ongoing development of our solutions and services, we are merging our Nottingham Head Office and Bingham Support Centre and are moving to a brand new headquarters in Nottingham city centre. Our new address and contact details are: Retail Assist Ltd The Hub 40 Friar Lane Nottingham NG1 6DQ T : 0115 8533910 F : 0115 8533929 E : Our Administration, HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing and Professional Services teams will work from these new offices from Monday 24th August 2009 . Our Service Desk and Store Systems teams will operate from here fromSaturday 29th August 2009 . The Application Centre and Data Centre will remain in Northampton.…
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Aurora Fashions IT Outsourcing
  • 20 Jun 2009
Aurora sees Benefits of Retail Assist Service Desk
In a recent staff survey, Aurora employees noted a marked improvement in the level of customer service received since their IT Service Desk was outsourced to Retail Assist last year. Aurora Fashions is the parent company of six design-led fashion brands: Anoushka G, Coast, Karen Millen, Oasis, Odille and Warehouse. The 2009 review showed a substantial improvement in every category, ranging from how easy it is to contact the Help Desk to how efficiently staff IT problems and requests are solved, and how effectively staff are kept up to date on any issues raised. John Bovill, Group IT Director, explains that as an existing client of Retail Assist, Aurora was sure that it could outsource its first line IT support with confidence: “We’ve had a long relationship and Retail Assist understands retail and our business. It’s a great marriage. We’re getting the cost-savings and benefits of shared services.” Retail Assist provides support for all of the EPoS systems that Aurora uses: Store6, Retail-J and Microsoft Wepos. The service provides both standard trading and out-of-hours cover : Monday to Saturday, 07.00 – 23.15 and Sunday & Bank Holidays, 09.30 – 18.00. In addition, all first-level support calls from Aurora’s Buying, Finance, Head Office and Admin functions are channelled through the Service Desk. For these users, technical support is given on desktop and core business applications.…
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Retail Assist 150
  • 15 Jun 2009
Retail Assist Celebrates 10 years in Business
2009 is a special year for us, as we celebrate our 10th year of trading. In the words of Alan Morris: “The past ten years have been an extraordinary journey. We’ve reached new horizons as we’ve grown our portfolio of services and products, diversified into a number of retail sectors and, more recently, entered new markets such as the USA. The next ten should be even more exciting!” Expansion has touched every area of our business. Staff numbers have grown from the three founding partners, Alan Morris, Gary Broughton and Nigel Illingworth, to now over 100. And in terms of physical locations, we’ve gone from one to several, including our corporate headquarters, Support Centre, Application Centre, and Data Centre. We no longer operate solely in the UK: our products and services are now helping retailers in Eire, and as far afield as the Far East and North America. Along the way, we’ve forged many partnerships and we acquired Merret, all of which has helped us to diversify and grow. “We’ve built a client list that’s the envy of many,” continues Alan. “We value the loyalty and confidence that our clients continue to show in us. It’s because of them and the great people we employ that 2009 calls for celebration.”…
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  • 2 Apr 2009
Paperchase hosting
Retail Assist is providing Data Centre hosting, 24/365 operations monitoring, technical services and support for Paperchase’s server infrastructure. This includes the IBM I-Series running Retail Assist’s Merret supply chain solution, and a disaster recovery service for the I-Series. As Retail Assist’s CEO, Dan Smith, comments: “This contract is another example of an existing customer deepening its relationship with us. Having demonstrated the value of our Merret supply chain solution, we worked with Paperchase to identify further areas where we could enhance its operations and underpin its growth plans.” Prior to making the move to Retail Assist’s Data Centre, Paperchase’s technical infrastructure was supported internally at its Head Office. Its own facilities were not subject to the latest environmental controls and 24/365 monitoring was not practical. The lack of a DR service was felt to be a business risk, plus machine space was costly. Paperchase’s confidence in Retail Assist came from a strong track record of working together. It also acknowledged the provider’s experience in supporting specialist I-Series and Wintel environments, and in monitoring overnight schedules, particularly for its own Merret software. Paperchase’s Head of IT explains: “Our internal IT team had many other strategic demands to meet. We saw the benefit of not being burdened with day-to-day operational responsibility for our hardware platforms, at the same time as gaining a more stable environment. Retail Assist is a perfect fit for those needs. The new infrastructure comes with a lower cost of ownership but delivers greater productivity. It’s scalable and flexible and makes us more agile as a business.” Retail Assist project-managed the transition project to relocate the existing servers to its own Northampton Data Centre, including disaster recovery testing for the I-Series. All elements are now located with a purpose-built machine-housing environment, which is constantly monitored and maintained according to ISO20000 procedures. “The business did not suffer from any service disruption. In fact, the transition was completely seamless to our user community.” The new infrastructure is supporting two head office locations, the Distribution Centre and 130+ stores. In addition to providing greater stability and resilience plus less system downtime and service disruption, it is releasing the internal IT team to focus on Business Change requests and project implementations. Paperchase is the UK’s retail brand leader in design-led stationery. The company has a 30-year trading history and now has 130 UK outlets and an extensive store-opening programme in the USA. Paperchase trades nationwide from its own stores and also through concessions, supported by Retail Assist’s Ra-X global data exchange solution.…
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World Duty Free - IT Help Desk
  • 10 Mar 2009
WDF takes off with Retail Assist support services
Nine months after revealing details of its relationship with WDF’s airport retail brand, World Duty Free, retail-only solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, has announced that a second airport retail brand in the WDF portfolio – Alpha Airport Shopping – has also become a client. Italian company Autogrill, the world’s biggest provider of food & beverage and retail services for travellers, acquired Alpha Group in 2007 and World Duty Free in 2008 and has recently integrated the two operations into a new retail brand named WDF. The portfolio of brands through which the company operates includes World Duty Free, Biza, Alpha Airport Shopping and Glorious Britain. At WDF, Retail Assist’s 24-hour Service Desk provides both 1st- and 2nd-level telephone support for a number of systems and applications. This includes support for the Retail-J EPoS application, which is pivotal to the success of WDF’s operations in all its stores. Services include round-the-clock, proactive monitoring of the architecture to maximise resilience and operating performance. WDF has opted to consolidate all its EPoS operations within Retail-J. UK CIO, Martin Cook, observes that it was logical to extend its contract with Retail Assist to include 1st line support for all stores in the WDF portfolio, where the application was in the process of being installed. ‘Retail Assist was the obvious choice, given success with our World Duty Free brand. The company’s done a sterling job for Alpha Airport Shopping, Biza and Glorious Britain stores and we’ve been impressed by their professionalism and project management. We see our partnership going from strength to strength.’ Retail Assist’s Project Services Manager, Kevin Greathead, was responsible for taking on the support contract. As he explains, the project completed in February, at which time all the brands and stores of the combined group went live. ‘Our go-live phase was in three stages. We completed the transition of all Biza and Glorious Britain stores and are now supporting them, and all World Duty Free stores moved to a new networking infrastructure provided by Autogrill. The final part of the project was to implement Retail-J into the transitioned Tax & Duty Free stores.’…
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Retail Assist
  • 5 Feb 2009
Merret launched in US with partner SPI
Merret launched at NRF Show in New York with new US partner, Software Paradigms International (SPI) Retail-only solutions and service provider, Retail Assist, chose the recent National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention & Expo’ in New York City as the US launch-pad for its Merret supply chain ERP solution and new partnership with a systems integrator, SPI of Atlanta. Retail-focused Software Paradigms International Incorporated (SPI), a leading provider of outsourced IT and BPO services, is the new US SI partner for Merret. With offshore development capabilities in India and onshore project management at client sites, SPI delivers Applications Development/Maintenance/Management, Infrastructure Management, Business Process Outsourcing/Management, Systems Integration and IT Business Consulting. Sid Mookerji is CEO and co-founder of the company. ‘There is a clear need in the US retail market for an integrated supply chain ERP solution of the breadth and depth of Merret. We are extremely positive about its potential amongst our retail clients,’ he observed. Retail Assist’s Managing Director, Alan Morris, was on SPI’s stand at NRF to see how Merret was received. ‘Staff at SPI have built considerable expertise in retail by specialising in the backbone operations of merchandising and logistics. The interest in Merret that they generated at the show has got things off to a flying start and I’m sure this will be an extremely successful relationship.’ Merret is a real-time, multi-currency, multi-channel merchandising, warehousing and stock control ERP solution that covers all areas of the retail supply process. Capabilities include product content, purchasing, warehousing, replenishment, inward and outward distribution, store back-office, retail financials, in-season planning, CRM data capture and reporting. The Merret BI & CPM module provides integrated Business Intelligence and enables retailers to manage all elements of corporate performance. Recent product development has included enhancements for the IBM System I environment and extension to the Microsoft .NET platform.…
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