Speciality Retail Group
Specialty Retail Group (SRG) is one of UK's best known specialist menswear retailers, providing high quality suits from some 80 stores. It successfully trades through a number of well known high street brand names including "Suits You", "Racing Green", "Young's Hire" and "Chester Barrie".
Operating from some 80 stores across the UK and Ireland and with a head office and distribution centre based at Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, SRG currently employs in excess of 700 people.
A secure platform to develop IT infrastructure
For such a fast growing company speed of communication between the stores and head office is a vital factor in ensuring success. The management of SRG realised that the implementation of a Wide Area Network (WAN) would play a key role in achieving this.
Frances Rabbits, head of business systems at SRG explains, "We knew that a fast, secure and reliable communication network on which we could develop our IT infrastructure was important. We had initially provided this by using ISDN lines but the increasing costs and management overhead were becoming prohibitive, so we decided to look round for an alternative.
With the introduction and increasing availability of low cost broadband lines we decided that this would be a good platform on which to build our new network. Although we could see the benefits of such a network, we knew we did not possess the in-house skills to design, implement and manage such an implementation. Our expertise is based upon supporting and developing our business systems and we did not want to become experts in the Broadband area."
Understanding the retail environment
As a result SRG looked for an external partner to carry out this role and after a thorough selection process chose Stockport-based Vodat international. Vodat are the only communication solution provider specialising in retail environments. Their innovative and cost-effective solutions enable retailers to utilise broadband technologies to add value and deliver real bottom-line benefits to their organisation. With over 20 years experience of providing solutions to the retail sector, they are now the largest supplier of private, managed broadband networks to the UK retail market, overseeing communication systems in thousands of stores across the UK and Europe.
The Vodat strategic, managed communication platform provides fixed-cost technologies that not only enable information to be shared between locations, but also offer the capability of additional profit-enhancing applications. Such as:
- Free telephone calls between stores (VoIP)
- Online training for staff
- In-store TV marketing
- Video conferencing
Rabbits commented, "We chose Vodat because of its specialist understanding of the retail industry."
Coping with future requirements
Vodat consultants worked closely with SRG staff in the design and implementation of the new network and were responsible for successfully rolling it out across the SRG estate during 2004. The high-speed, always-on connectivity provided by the managed network began to provide a return almost straight away. In particular it delivered instant access to stock levels for all the group companies as well as location information for the dress hire business.
Since the initial implementation Vodat have managed the network for SRG and worked with them in improving the availability of services. In early 2007 they carried out an upgrade of the network from IP stream to next generation MPLS. This highly resilient and secure solution has enabled SRG to implement VoIP telephony within the group and has allowed them to enjoy significant cost savings as a result.
The new platform is also flexible enough to accommodate any future networking requirements and handle the growth of the company. This will cover applications such as video streaming, CCTV streaming and e-learning for the stores if this functionality is required in the future.
Fixed and manageable costs
Vodat are now working with SRG to implement their managed PCI DSS compliant EFT authorisation service, to ensure that credit card transactions can be executed quickly and securely.
Rabbits said: "A very important part of the solution for us is that we now have a Private Network rather than a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which ensures that viruses cannot get onto our systems."
The new network has opened up the possibility of 'trickle feeding' information throughout the working day, rather than relying on an overnight batch run.
Jonathan Freedman, finance director of SRG, said that one of the most important factors about the new implementation has been the ability to control costs. And commented: "Our previous ISDN network did not have a fixed cost and communication spend can get out of hand. We now have fixed and manageable costs."
Mike Bielinski, CEO of Vodat International, said: "Retailers are becoming aware of the major advantages that can be gained through the knowledgeable and effective use of broadband. Our aim is to provide a service with value-added applications that realise those benefits, providing real business advantages and generating a fast payback for our retail clients."
To find out more about Vodat International and our private managed networks, Wide Area Network (WAN), low cost broadband and our PCI DSS compliant EFT authorisation services for the UK retail sector, call us on 0161 406 1820 or contact us by e-mail.< Back to Case studies