Retail club expands

With daily pressures on margins, performance and the bottom line, retailers across the region are looking for a proven IT platform that will allow them to respond quickly to changing business needs.

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By  Colin Edwards Published  January 29, 2006

|~|philblower200.jpg|~|Blower: SAP will help re-engineer group processes to enhance customer relationships, boost partner collaboration and create efficiencies across their operations.|~|Halal producer and vendor Co-op Islami has gone live with a SAP solution and hopes to streamline its processes and allow the firm to drive growth. In doing so it joins a number of leading retail groups across the region who have opted for SAP-based retail solutions to drive critical business processes such as distribution, transportation and logistics, inventory visibility, financial transparency, compliance and point-of-sales data management.Other retail corporates using SAP include the Emke Group, ETA Ascon, Spinneys, Batha Group, and Easa Saleh Al-Gurg Group.

"We have a well-defined vision and strategy to be the pioneer and global leader in the food industry and the five-year strategic plan encompasses the need for better IT infrastructure as an enabler for fuelling this growth," says Sushil Kumar P, strategic information systems manager at Dubai-based Co-op Islami.

Factors that contributed to Co-op Islami's move to SAP were a need for real time, online information backed by a more robust, current technology. The company is implementing SAP's enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution ECC 5.0,covering departmental processes including finance, HR and plant maintenance.

The ERP is being implemented in all Co-op Islami locations across the UAE over three phases. The first phase covers all the operational modules while the second and third phases include Business Information Warehouse (BW), Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) modules, which will be rolled out over a period of two to three years.

"SAP is one of the key enablers for us by bringing in a new culture of best practices and thoughts. It will also help our employees in building competencies which are required for being competitive and innovative," he adds.
Phil Blower, sales director at SAP Arabia, says, "Co-op Islami joins the list of corporates that have chosen to employ a solution that is seamlessly integrated. SAP will help the group re-engineer its business processes across various modules to enhance customer relationships, boost partner collaboration and create efficiencies across their supply chains and business operations.

"SAP ERP will help Co-op Islami set up efficient tools to support various departmental processes from execution to accounting, analysis besides sales and distribution as a whole and of each individual office."
Integrator Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Infotech worked with Co-op Islami and SAP Arabia to implement the project, which was dubbed Project Edge (Enhance and Develop the Growth of Excellence) by the Co-op Islami CEO himself, a team of 14 key users were involved in the implementation of the processes.

Commenting on the growing number of retail groups moving to a SAP environment, Ghassan Darri, sales manager, SAP Arabia says that in an industry faced with daily pressures on margins, performance and the bottom line they illustrate the growing market momentum for proven solutions as the platform for business growth and innovation. They enable companies to use a services-based approach to respond more flexibly to changing business needs, he says.
L&T is also the implementation partner in ETA - ASCON and ETA STAR Group's deployment of mySAP-ERP and mySAP-CRM, which will form the backbone technology platform for the 32 year Middle East conglomerate's operating units within and across the Group.

When implemented, it will provide the Group with a common platform and standard processes for managing customer relationships. L&T is the implementation partner for the first phase of the project, which will support all financial and HR data across the company for more consistent reporting, and improve visibility and information accuracy in all functional areas of management.

"After an extensive evaluation of Tier I and Tier II vendors of ERP business solutions, we selected SAP since SAP's organic and integrated approach will have the maximum ability to harmonise information across (our) diverse business landscapes," says Arif B. Rahman, ETA Group Director - Finance."By choosing SAP to implement a single, integrated technology platform across the Group, we can more rapidly achieve the benefits of the combined organisation and provide it with a strategic and competitive advantage going forward."

Starting with 1,000 user licenses for the mySAP ERP and my SAP CRM suites, the first phase of the project entails the implementation of all the relevant modules in three pilot divisions and Financials and HR modules across the Group.
The system will then be rolled out in all the other divisions within 18 months.

SAP is also putting its stamp on the retail market globally and claims that more than 2,500 retailers and wholesalers have completely re-engineered the way they manage inventory, leverage their workforce, and meet customer needs with SAP for Retail. Two of its most recent wins is the music and entertainment retailer, Virgin Entertainment Group and apparel and shoes designer Kenneth Cole Productions.

Virgin has selected an SAP Triversity point-of-sale (POS) solution to automate and integrate the company's Virgin Megastores in the US. The solution will enable Virgin employees to manage inventory and pricing rules, apply new discounts, add promotions and adapt to sales tax changes without the use of custom programming. The SAP Triversity POS solution includes the base functionality that Virgin required, while offering the retailer virtually unlimited flexibility through a powerful parameters engine that contains more than a half-million options.

Kenneth Cole will implement SAP for Retail, SAP Apparel and Footwear and SAP Triversity POS in order to gain an integrated end-to-end view of its multiple businesses. The solutions are designed to coordinate across all aspects of the business including product development, merchandising, customer relationship management, supply chain and inventory management, store operations and labour optimisation as well as financial reporting.||**||

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