KOJ thinks Smart in expansion plan

Kamak Osman Jamjoom (KOJ), one of the UAE’s biggest retail groups, has embarked on a multimillion dollar overhaul of its IT systems to support its plans to quadruple its number of stores in the next three years.

  • E-Mail
By  Diana Milne Published  September 3, 2006

Kamak Osman Jamjoom (KOJ), one of the UAE’s biggest retail groups, has embarked on a multimillion dollar overhaul of its IT systems to support its plans to quadruple its number of stores in the next three years. The group, which holds the franchises for the Early Learning Centre across the GCC and The Body Shop in Western Saudi Arabia, has 260 stores in the region but plans to grow this to over 1,000 stores by 2009. To support its aggressive growth plans it will be undertaking multiple IT projects — including the creation of a data centre which will be linked to all its stores and the implementation of Oracle’s Retail and E-Business suite solutions. KOJ, which also owns the Mikyajy make-up and accessories brand and the Nayomi lingerie brand, has dubbed the two-year project ‘Smart’ — standing for simple, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. The Smart project will cost US$13.6million to implement. Thameem Rizvon, group IT manager at KOJ, said the project was aimed at centralising data across the group and integrating disparate IT systems. “Currently each department works in its own silo centric way — but we are moving into a process centric way where across departments we can see the process flows and then analytical information flows across,” he said. KOJ is in talks with Sun Microsystems, IBM and HP about its new data centre and hopes to select a vendor for the project by the middle of next month. The group does currently have a small data centre but it does not have a centralised data warehouse and only contains information from sales and inventory, not HR, marketing and financials. KOJ’s stores are also not linked online to the current system — they work offline and information is transmitted from them to the data centre overnight via an automatic connection. Under the new system they will still operate offline but back office functions such as HR, marketing, merchandising, financials, projects and property management will be online. KOJ hoped the new larger facility would allow it to better analyse stock information and centralise its back office functions. “All the back office functions will be centralised in this data centre, which will also hold all the store information, stock information, and financial information,” said Rizvon. “Our stores are so diversely spread across different countries — we are in six countries. All our stores and warehouses would connect to the new data centre, which also has a disaster recovery centre,” he added. The Oracle Retail and E-Business suite solutions will replace Microsoft’s Great Plains Financials software, which the group had used for four years, Active Retail from the South African company UCS Software which it had used since 2003, and applications that were developed internally for HR and merchandising applications. Rizvon said that the current system no longer supported the company’s growth and the presence of so many disparate applications was not ideal. “One of the biggest problems we had was the integration of multiple applications and trying to integrate them,” he said. “The other was in terms of scalability, our company was growing at such a high speed and the systems were not able to scale to that. Microsoft Great Plains was a very good financial tool but because we had implemented multiple, different, systems, if you tried to integrate them across different departments, you could not get the best practices out of them. Analysis out of all these systems was very difficult,” Rizvon went on to add. Rizvon went on to say that the Oracle applications would support the company’s impressive expansion by giving the management of the organisation a clearer overview of its various operations.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code