Case study: Picture perfect for Jessops

4 Apr 2005

Jessops is one of the UK’s leading camera store chains with 280 stores in Britain and Northern Ireland. Its first store in the Republic opened for business last October on Dublin’s prestigious Grafton Street. The shop sells a wide range of digital and film cameras as well as printers, accessories and darkroom supplies.

According to Andy Kerr, (pictured) general manager of Jessops Ireland, the shop gets in the region of 300 visitors per day and carries between 10,000 and 20,000 product lines.

Kerr points out that the Irish operation is completely separate from the UK one and this is reflected in the choice of back-office accounting system. “Our back-office accounting system is Sage MMS. This was chosen because it was seen as the best solution to meet our needs for collecting the information we need to analyse sales.”

According to Kerr, the Sage MMS system is not used by the UK operation. “We needed a stand-alone system in Ireland because our old system could not be brought across from the UK and one of the main reasons for this was because it could not handle euros”

Jessops Ireland chose Advent as its technology partner and in addition to installing Sage MMS it installed APS, an electronic point-of-sale system that is integrated with Sage MMS to provide an end-to-end solution.

For Kerr, the main function he relies on is the stock monitoring. “Whenever we sell anything it will automatically reorder it when I place an order,” he says. “It links into our bespoke order system so that updates Sage minute by minute.” The company’s warehouse in the UK stores in the region of 100,000 products and if the product being ordered is available it will typically be delivered within two to three days. “The only reason we would be out of stock of a product would be because the warehouse doesn’t have it,” says Kerr.

In addition, Kerr can call up reports showing trends and identifying the most popular models or brands. “The accountants can also extract cost ratios and so on,” he says. “If we sell X number of products depending on the different prices we sell it at, it will give the average sales ratio and so on. Again it gives us an idea of the percentage margins over a period of time.” The accountants also use the system to prepare tax declarations and accounts.

According to Kerr, this gives him flexibility in offering, say, bulk discounts to people who want to buy the last remaining items in a line.

In terms of ease of use, Kerr, classes Sage MMS as “very easy to use”. Advent provided training in all of the main functions. There are however, advanced functions that would be used by management rather than sales staff. In addition, reports to the UK are provided via the firm’s local accountancy practice however, the company is investigating ways of allowing the head office in the UK to access the system remotely.

Plans are also afoot to expand the number of shops in the Republic. Sage MMS will play a part of this. “The system is scalable and flexible enough, he says, and it can be networked so that the shops can share the system, although whether they will or not is still to be decided.

In the meantime, however, Kerr is quite happy with the system he has. Without it, he says, he would be unable to do business. “So far it’s been very reliable and has proved very easy to use,” he says.

By David Stewart