IT boost for Jacques Vert supply chain

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Womenswear retail group Jacques Vert reckons a new supply chain IT system had enabled it to reduce its cost base and react more swiftly to developments in the marketplace.

The company has four brands: Jacques Vert, Planet, Precis and Windsmoor. It manages more than 1,000 outlets in the UK, Canada and Ireland.

The merchandise planning and supply chain software, from Retail Assist and Maple Lake, has accelerated decision-making for buying and merchandising. The management of discounts has been enhanced, allowing the group to sell product at the optimum price and increase throughput of stock.

Commercial director John Bovill says the company’s finance, business intelligence, retail and stock management systems were no longer suitable for multichannel retail, and didn’t meet the requirements of a forward-thinking retailer. The previous supply chain solutions did not support planning, ordering, allocation or monitoring of stock, leading to time-consuming workarounds with an over-reliance upon Excel spreadsheets. The legacy systems, selected over a decade ago in 1999, lacked integration and did not have a future development path. What’s more, they were supported by an in-house IT team overburdening the business with support issues.

The company needed a solution which allowed the retailer to pre-empt and react to a changing womenswear marketplace. “Fashion changes in rapid and unpredictable ways and the connectedness of consumers to media and technology has resulted in a need for instant availability. It was critical for us to gain clear stock management to react and plan more efficiently and quickly,” says Bovill.

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“We need to be more reactive and operate a more effective supply chain to remain ahead of the competition,” says Ian Johnson, group finance director. “This means continually monitoring trends and identifying best sellers so that popular lines can be quickly replenished throughout the season.”

The new system provides an integrated single version of the truth. The improved stock management system has enabled the buying and merchandising teams to define optimum stock packages or targeted allocations for all channels. The automated product and sales data transfer provided by the new systems and host store partners (House of Fraser, John Lewis and Debenhams) have led to productivity savings and a reduction in e-commerce staff costs, increasing efficiency and profitability.

The management of discounts has been enhanced, allowing the group to sell product at the optimum price and increase throughput of stock. It now gets real-time stock updates every 15 minutes. It has also enabled the group to move from a five to a seven working day distribution centre operation, improving order fulfilment.

The Maple Lake and Merret integration has provided enhanced space planning at a capacity and linear level, resulting in improved stock densities in store and the allocation of stock more aligned to what sells best and where.

In December 2011, half-way through the project, The Jacques Vert Group was bought by private equity firm Sun European Partners. The deadline for implementation was tightened due to the acquisition, and the new planning solutions proved invaluable in supporting the need for rapid generation of 3-5 year plans.

The Jacques Vert Group’s acquisition and subsequent merger with the Irisa Group (formerly Alexon), also owned by Sun European, recognised the need for best practice systems in underpinning the wider group’s future growth plans. Sun European Partners managing director Paul Daccus says: “The Jacques Vert Group had already invested in its systems and processes while Irisa needs a lot of investment. It makes sense to merge the two.”


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