Oliver Bonas


Tim Hollidge, Chief Operating Officer of Oliver Bonas, opened five new stores last year and two this year, so is confident about the future. The mostly London-based business has been steadily growing since Futura was first installed in 2000, when there were only six stores.

Today, with 32 stores and three more due to open this year, Tim Hollidge sees Futura as a crucial pillar to rely on to support his business expansion, allowing his team to focus on sourcing the right products and choosing the best, customer-focused people to bring in.

On why they chose Futura, Tim says: “It’s because they invest in their product. As well as excellent reporting capabilities, it can grow with us, being easily scalable.

Despite adding 26 stores we haven’t had to employ the same proportion of HQ staff to keep control of the business.”

Intelligent stock replenishment

As well as better buying and improving stock allocation to shops, he sees Futura’s merchandising strength in intelligent stock replenishment and planning as a key reason why Oliver Bonas has limited stock exposure. 

Even more importantly, target stock levels help the team achieve a high percentage of goods sold at 100%.

When opening the new Kings Cross branch, Tim used historical data from nearby St. Pancras branch to help forecast a sales profile, to indicate what to stock, how much should be sold and to predict sales levels of different products. He found this “enormously helpful.”

Optimised retailing

To ensure that capital is not tied up in too much stock and that stores are not empty, the team uses recommended re-ordering, auto replenishment and inter-branch transfers which Tim finds “excellent”. But the greatest example of the system’s merchandising strength is its live replenishment. At sale times or at Christmas, Futura’s ability to update the system with sales levels and stock sold from each branch every 10 minutes, means the system can replenish the stores from the warehouse the next morning or within 24 hours – a huge advantage in maximising fast selling lines.

Greater management information

As management information becomes ever more significant in a multi-channel environment, having just one system running across all channels simplifies everything, according to Tim Hollidge. Reports include store and web sales, whether via mobile or laptop, that show top sellers, stock turn, short term profit reports, daily sales, stock levels and inventories. Meanwhile trend analysis gives in-depth insight into customer purchasing patterns to give the company a competitive advantage.

Integrating the Exchequer accounting package with Futura has eliminated much manual inputting (which could take half a Monday morning) giving accurate information, at the touch of a button.

“My store managers had been at an all-day pre-Christmas meeting. That evening they were curious to see how their stores had performed in their absence. I was able to show them using Futura’s new mobile app. They were tremendously excited and a bit stunned that I could see all the sales in all the shops on my mobile almost in real time!”

Single view visibility

Futura is the backbone of the business, receiving orders from the web, raising an invoice and, using advanced replenishment algorithms, updating the stock and customer information into the database automatically. Having just one central system means faster receipting methods and faster stock throughput, as well as giving a single view visibility of their trading position.

Today the website is responsible for just 6% of sales (having grown this year by 80%) and the company’s aim is to make it responsible for 25% of sales within 3-5 years.

Web trading

To improve web trading, Tim is looking at investing in Futura’s new loyalty module and adding gift cards to the system – to be used online and in store. Adding Futura4Loyalty will enable more customer data to be captured and analysed and expand the sorts of tailored promotions Oliver Bonas can offer. In should give more flexibility to see which promotions work best for each channel, allowing strategies to be adapted accordingly and customers more suitably rewarded.

“We are a dynamic company keen to grow and we depend on Futura’s stability and strength to allow us to expand steadily. As well as relying on its software, what’s more important for me is the knowledge that we can have conversations with one of the team at midnight on a Friday night and fix things so that when stores open on a Saturday morning, the tills are up and running and when we pick up the phone there is always someone that will try and help us,” Tim Hollidge concluded.

To find out more about Oliver Bonas visit their website www.oliverbonas.com

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