IT Director Spicers Ltd, Cambridge 1997 – 2003
Spicers is Europe’s largest distributor of Office Products. Operating in seven countries from twenty-five distribution centres, the turnover is approaching €1 billion. The company’s business model is to deliver high transaction volumes, with a low-ticket value and margin, through a variety of distribution outlets to retailers and consumers. IT is vital in enabling the company to exploit new routes to market whilst driving out distribution channel cost.
Here I had overall responsibility for the design, procurement and development of all IT and Telephony systems within Spicers’ UK and Ireland operations as well as a degree of involvement with those in France, Germany and Spain. My staff of 58 included technical administrators, systems analysts, programmers, support analysts, trainers and customer integration specialists.
I was directly responsible for several initiatives, including:
- The implementation of a European-wide logistics and ERP system from Industri Matematik in Sweden. I was the chair of the European user group.
- The growth in e-business ratios whilst improving customer application support through investment in web based middle ware translation software
- The launch of a web based catalogue and order management system, the first in the Office Product market, responsible for over £50 million revenue within the UK
- The initiation and development of a SQL server Data Warehouse using Business Objects as the decision support tool.
General Manager Spicers Ltd 1991 – 1997
I had the management responsibility for the North East Regional Distribution Centre (RDC) of the Company, specialising in the distribution of office products to over 500 trade customers, including some national contracts. My staff of 35 included four managers covering Field Sales, Telesales, Computerised Services, Training, Warehousing and Transport. During my time here, the depot achieved the following:
- Sales growth from £5 million to £10 million p.a.
- Profit growth by 400% to 8% return on sales.
- Winners of the Customer Care trophy in 1994, 1995 and 1996, coming second in 1997
- Became the first depot to handle a national customer from one RDC.
In 1992, I was awarded the trophy for the BOSS Federation Young Stationer of the Year.
Focus Project User Manager 1994 – 1997
From August 1994, I had the additional responsibility of User Manager, jointly heading the Focus project to investigate and source a new package to replace our existing RDC system. My role within this project was:
- To ensure that the user was represented wherever possible in the selection process.
- To act as a catalyst in providing solutions where blocks have occurred.
- To communicate to all interested parties.
- To initiate and progress the Focus training program.
- To ensure that the pilot site is ready for acceptance of the new software.
During this time, I developed good working relationships with the key people at both Industri Matematik (the software provider) and the IT department.