International clothing company O'Neill is consolidating onto a single enterprise resource planning (ERP) system across the business to reduce the complexity of multiple systems and give it the flexibility required to expand into new markets.
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The company spent about £6m on a global project to standardise on the fashion-industry specific enterprise management system from Lawson software.
Anton Langeler, global IT director for O'Neill, told Computer Weekly that without an integrated ERP system, the firm is unable to introduce new business models and expand into new markets. "The Lawson system will give us the flexibility and control we need to introduce a wider variety of business models and support expansion into Eastern Europe," he said.
The first phase of the two and a half year project will focus on O'Neill's £357m European operations, which use five separate ERP systems. Arjan Kaaks, chief operating officer at O'Neill Europe, said the project is aimed at reducing the complexity of the current infrastructure.
"Our objective is to work towards a common, global and standardised platform that will help improve collaboration with our subsidiaries, distribution and retail channels," he said.
O'Neill will use the Lawson system to support its supply chain operations and synchronise demand and supply to respond faster to changing market conditions.
About 95% of O'Neill's current operations are in wholesale, but increased stock visibility and control will enable it to expand the retail side of the business, he said.
Another business benefit of the ERP standardisation project will be improved efficiency of business processes, said Langelar.
Reports on product stocks and locations that currently take three days to compile, will be delivered within ten seconds once the Lawson system has been rolled out across the whole organisation.
This efficiency gain alone, said Langelar, will enable the company to redeploy five to eight staff members.
O'Neill expects its ERP standardisation project to help increase business by giving sales staff direct access to information about its 220 product lines and four new collections introduced each season.
The clothing firm also expects the Lawson system to improve data integrity, management capabilities, and financial reporting.