"Info-CTRL gives us the best of both worlds – the usability and flexibility of Excel, combined with the transactional control of data. Now that we are using a database-driven system, users only have to draw back the data that they need to work on. They don’t have to work from a very large complex spreadsheet, which means that the system has greater stability, performance and speed."
"We estimate that our return on investment will be 3 x return in year one due to productivity improvements and time saved on throughput."
Cath Kidston has 59 stores and concessions in the UK and Ireland and 54 across Spain and the Far East. The business started from a single shop in London, and now, 20 years later, Cath Kidston is recognised as a leading British homeware, lifestyle and clothing brand. The rapid growth of the business had led to disparate IT systems being employed and a reliance on the use of spreadsheets by its team of 60 merchandisers. IT Director, Karl de Bruijn, was brought in to develop a new cohesive and robust IT strategy.
The Cath Kidston merchandising team held all the product and supplier data in a number of very large, complex spreadsheets, including a range plan and product development plan. They relied upon these spreadsheets for all of information they needed for their daily merchandising activities, such as managing stock and pricing. The spreadsheets were shared across operational teams which posed several problems:
Info-CTRL created a database for Cath Kidston, which involved consolidating, reconfiguring and validating the master data from the range plan into a cloud-based database. Info-CTRL was implemented to link the database in the cloud with each user’s individual spreadsheet.
The unique configurator within Info-CTRL ensures that the right data is downloaded into the right cell of the right spreadsheet every time. It also enables each merchandiser to use the spreadsheet format, column headings and terminology that they wish. They only need to download the data on which they are working, and because it is linked to a database, it can be sliced, diced and represented in any way required.
The master data is stored separately from the operational data. It is secure, but accessible for day to day operations and can be updated easily. Data verification, validation and an audit trail are built in.
The plan is for the Cath Kidston merchandising team to use Info-CTRL to manage all of its master data (the information that was previously held within the range plan) so that they can plan product development and pricing more efficiently. Info-CTRL will provide an audit trail and increase visibility of who is using which data and who is accessing it concurrently.
Karl de Bruijn, IT Director at Cath Kidston says:
“The central, single data repository is very important to us. Product development and lifecycle planning has a lot of different data relationships and these are now much more visible.
“Info-CTRL provides a level of control that a transactional system would give us, while providing the quality control and audit trail required for our master data, which is very important.
“Info-CTRL gives us the best of both worlds – the usability and flexibility of Excel, combined with the transactional control of data. Now that we are using a database-driven system, users only have to draw back the data that they need to work on. They don’t have to work from a very large complex spreadsheet, which means that the system has greater stability, performance and speed.
Return on investment
“We estimate that our return on investment will be 3 x return in year one due to productivity improvements and time saved on throughput.
“Info-CTRL gives us the ability to have data available across multiple teams. We estimate that the increase in productivity will be equivalent to two head counts per year. Previously we had to do a lot of manual checking of data, which can now be automated. We have a significant increase in quality due to in-built error handling and the fact that we can put validation around data inputs. Data is not necessarily visible in Excel, so this automatic error handling makes it much easier.“
The key reasons for choosing Info-CTRL
“User take-up is very straightforward as the whole change management experience was virtually non-existent for the user. Info-CTRL combines the tools that everybody knows and the flexibility that they’re used to, with the audit and quality controls that we needed. We can run it in parallel with our existing systems and it will increase our speed to market.”
The right choice for Cath Kidston
“We see Info-CTRL as a key enabler for implementation of our IT strategy. As we implement new systems and solutions, we can easily integrate them with Info-CTRL. It will become part of our IT ecosystem.
“We had to do batch integration to load data previously. We are enabling good technology practices and as we evolve, we will be able to migrate data more easily.
“Info-CTRL provides a flexible and stable platform on which to build.”
Implementation and service
Cath Kidston is in the midst of a system refresh and the full rollout of Info-CTRL will be timed to not only coincide with the new system rollout, but as a key enabler to providing clean, robust data to the new platform.
Karl de Bruijn adds: “We anticipate very little disruption when moving to the new system, few quality issues and no problem with productivity. The implementation approach is very straightforward.
“The service from the Info-CTRL team is fast, flexible and customer-centric – the company’s culture focuses on whatever the customer needs to get the job done and they deliver on that.”