Getronics: Continuous Improvement, Constant Support
When Thresher Group needed a cost-effective, future-ready IT system, it turned to Getronics. The Thresher Group's Peter Baxter tells Charlotte Stoker that he is confident that with the right IT system, his company can continue to lead its market.
A market leader in the UK's booming drinks business, the Thresher Group is one of the UK's largest private retailers, selling over a million bottles of wine and a million beers a week. It serves 150 million customers a year from its 1,700 stores, operating under brand names such as Threshers, The Local, Wine Rack and Haddows. It employs some 12,000 people, all of whom rely on efficient IT systems.
The UK drinks market is fiercely competitive, partly due to increasing one-stop shopping in UK supermarkets. This is putting severe pressure on many specialised retailers, including the Thresher Group. At the same time, the group has historically pursued a strategic M&A programme, including acquiring 200 stores from Unwins and merging with Victoria Wine. This level of business change requires reliable and flexible processes and systems to underpin it.
Peter Baxter, head of IT at the Thresher Group, says: 'While change is undoubtedly good news for our business, we realised that our IT systems were becoming less cost effective and the time had come to address our aging head office desktop infrastructure. This was a real problem: we needed a coherent system to facilitate good communication and information sharing across the group.'
Even when Thresher Group had invested in new technology, the high cost of the underlying infrastructure remained. As Baxter explains: 'We simply weren't confident that our desktop environment would be able to support continuing business change without constant investment.
'We had to implement an IT system that could cope with future change without creating integration problems or increasing costs.'
AN IT SYSTEM READY FOR THE FUTURE
After analysing the Thresher Group's business and IT requirements, Getronics implemented a forerunner of the Future-Ready Workspace, bringing together, in a single physical and virtual environment, all the infrastructure the group needed.
Based on Windows Server 2003, with Windows XP and Microsoft Office on the desktop, it was built on flexible, open systems that adapt to changing needs and goals – creating the forward-facing system that the group required.
Upgrades, innovations and extensions are now implemented as required. The new system is also secure, reliable and simple.
Baxter explains: 'The number of servers, for example, has been almost halved. It's great to see our IT system evolve like this – it really is future-ready.'
In fact, in 2005 users were provided with VPN connectivity, which was simple to implement and quickly achieved due to the flexible underlying infrastructure. A full return on investment was achieved in two months and telecoms costs reduced by £12,000 per year. And in 2007, PDAs were successfully integrated at virtually no cost.
IMPROVED COSTS AND EFFICIENCY
The Thresher Group has been satisfied with the cost benefits and efficient service provided by Getronics. Baxter says: 'Despite the scale and complexity of the project, we didn't incur capital expenditure costs – a prime consideration. In a competitive industry, capital investment should be focused in customer-facing areas where possible.
'More than just providing value-for-money, and in our case a valuable cost reduction, the Getronics' pricing approach had other benefits. For our Future-Ready IT infrastructure, costs are calculated on a fixed-cost-per-user tariff, improving our budgetary certainty and transparency.'
He has no regrets about using Getronics, especially since it offers an excellent level of on-going service: 'Getronics is providing us with round-the-clock monitoring, regular checks to guarantee everything works and a service desk to manage incidents. Getronics also maintains our point-of-sale systems, enabling a high degree of up-time even where parts of the equipment are several years old.
'We've noticed a real surge in the resilience and availability of our IT infrastructure. And that's great news for the service we provide to our customers.'