Reflex system praised in Designers Guild Profit Track 100 feature
The Sunday Times Profit Track 100, published at the end of April, included a high profile feature entitled “IT helps make leap forward”, which illustrated in detail the benefits that Designers Guild have seen since the implementation of the Mertex system from Reflex Data Systems.
Designers Guild’s Chief Executive, Simon Jeffreys, spoke at length to the Sunday Times of the significant payback they have achieved from investing in the new system. Their experience was used as a working example to support the findings of recent research by Durham Business School, that “even in difficult times, high-performing firms are more likely to see IT as a means of attracting and keeping customers, rather than simply as a way to whittle down costs.”
London based Designers Guild – ranked number 22 in this year’s Profit Track 100 – highlighted in particular the benefits achieved in terms of operational efficiency, customer service, and in providing extra capacity for their continued growth.
“When Designers Guild found sales were outpacing its ability to process them, it decided to invest in IT to change the way it worked. Ranked no 22 in this year’s Profit Track 100, the company sells boldly patterned fabrics, wallpapers, and carpets, and accessories, with 70% of turnover coming from exports. The company’s systems could no longer handle the volume of sales orders it was receiving so chief executive Simon Jeffreys brought in Reflex Data Systems to update the warehousing and production systems, and introduce a customer relationship management system to handle sales and purchase orders.
The new system was installed 18 months ago, and Designers Guild now has a production system in which everything is bar-coded and there is no need for paper. Retailers, such as John Lewis, are able to order samples and fabric on the company’s website and check the progress of shipments. They can print invoices and view their accounts. Sales staff are able to access sales statistics remotely to discover what their 15,000 wholesale customers are buying.
This has significantly improved the efficiency of the customer service. Jeffreys says: “We were getting orders right about 94% of the time – now we are hitting 98-99%.” The investment has gone straight to the bottom line. The picking and packing of fabrics has become twice as efficient. Sales volumes have increased by more than 30%, while staff numbers have risen only 4% and the company has not needed more warehouse space.
Most importantly, the new system has given the company extra capacity for growth. “The company has everything in place to push the expansion of our product range…”.
Software giant, Microsoft, have also done their own research which reflects Durham Business School’s findings on the link between IT investment and increased profitability. Microsoft’s Steve Dunn, reported in the Profit Track 100 feature that “Our research shows that growth companies like Designers Guild tend to spend more on IT than non-growth companies. For such companies, IT has already proven its worth…. Of course, IT can be costly, but research shows that growth companies are more likely to believe that investment in IT has better returns than investment in other areas.”