UK bakery chain Greggs has passed a major milestone on its multi-year business transformation journey: the latest release of SAP IS-Retail has now been rolled out to over 1,500 stores across its network, with a completely re-designed shop user interface (UI).
Alongside that, some 16,000 staff – mostly in-store employees and their area managers – have been trained on the new system, using SAP’s SuccessFactors Learning Management System (LMS).
With remaining stores coming online at a rate of around 100 per week, the work should be completed within a month, according to Tony Taylor, IT and business change director at Greggs. He told diginomica:
We’ve made this announcement alongside our SAP partner Keytree because we see it as a real reason to celebrate, a big milestone. We covered 100 shops as a pilot in the lead-up to Christmas 2016, but we’ve been on a far more aggressive roll-out since February – and it’s working. It’s already proving to be very beneficial to us as a business.
As the term ‘milestone’ indicates, this phase has been part of a far longer journey for the company, which saw 2016 sales rise 7% to reach £894.2 million. In short, Greggs is on a mission to transform itself from a traditional bakery business to what it terms a ‘modern food-on-the-go retailer’ and, as part of that effort, it’s spending £25 million on an end-to-end process and systems overhaul that has been given the internal name of ‘Sunrise’.
This dates back to 2014, when SAP’s Business Suite on HANA was selected by the company, kickstarting a complete finance systems replacement, a makeover of Greggs’ customer interaction centre, the implementation of cloud-based procurement and learning applications from SAP Ariba and SuccessFactors respectively and, more recently, the deployment of SAP forecasting and replenishment applications.
Despite the huge scope of Sunrise, perhaps the biggest impacts have been felt in-store. Centralized forecasting and replenishment is replacing shop-based ordering and much of the current phase of work has focused on simplifying the tasks that in-store staff need to perform, in order to free them up to spend time with their customers, explains James Holmes, Greggs’ programme manager for SAP transformation:
What we’ve done through the new UI for shops is to provide staff there with exactly the right level of information they need. We’ve massively simplified what we had previously in terms of tasks and activities and information, so that they’re focusing on the right things.
The new learning and development modules from SuccessFactors have been a big help in this respect, he continues.
Our previous approach to learning and development was very much a ‘death by PowerPoint’ one. That’s all changed. Whereas previously we would have to gather people from multiple stores in one location for training, or send out documents by email explaining new ways of working, we now provide digital-based learning that people can do whenever’s convenient for them. And they can do that training at the shop level, rather than them being asked to travel and take time away from their stores.
On the train down to London earlier this week from Gregg’s Newcastle-on-Tyne headquarters, Taylor and Holmes sat with two area managers who apparently told them how much complexity has been removed from in-store work as a result of the new UI. Says Taylor:
As technology people, that’s music to our ears.
More work to do
With in-store work almost complete, attention at Greggs and Keytree is now turning to Greggs’ manufacturing, warehouse and supply chain operations, for which there are around 17 sites across the country. Says Taylor:
This work will take us much of 2017 and 2018. Supply chain will continue into 2019, but it will be much more of a roll-out of a proven model by that time. These parts of our business have already been touched by our changes in finance and procurement, but there’ll be more for them to take on board, especially our 2,000 supply chain staff, and we anticipate more use of SuccessFactors in delivering the changes.
A key to the success of Sunrise thus far has been the support of Greggs’ senior leadership, adds Taylor.
Ultimately, this is about delivering a financial return to the business. When you’re making a £25 million investment, you have to convince the board and shareholders that it’s a worthwhile one – that goes without saying.
But alongside that, you also need their support in terms of making it clear to the business as a whole what decisions are being made and why you’re making them. We’ve benefited hugely in this project from top-down support and encouragement from our CEO [Roger Whiteside] and his team.
Image credit - Greggs
Disclosure - At time of writing, SAP is a premier partner of diginomica.