The Juice Corporation sews the seeds of success

In the fast moving world of fashion apparel choice, branding and seasonality are the driving forces if a business is to be successful and capture the consumer’s appetite for looking good.

In order to actively compete in this highly competitive market place Manchester based company The Juice Corporation recently re-configured its business operations platform with the help of K3 Business Solutions.

Born out of the hugely successful Joe Bloggs brand, The Juice Corporation is now widely recognised as one of the UK’s most dynamic and energetic fashion houses, with a brand portfolio that not only includes Joe Bloggs, but
other household names such as Kangol, Slazenger, Santa Monica, Rawcraft, Gabicci, Elizabeth Emanuel and many more.

With over 30 years’ experience in the trade, The Juice Corporation is well placed to ensure that the business grows its offers to retailers and brand owners alike. In-house studio designers consistently produce cutting edge products, influenced by modern culture, music and fashion trends. As versatile and fast moving as the brands it delivers the business prides itself on its ability to react rapidly to trends and produce ‘fast fashion’ with quick turnaround and delivery. This is something that’s vital in today’s hugely competitive fashion marketplace.

Based in the UK with a supply chain extending globally, The Juice Corporation needs to employ an extensive supply and distribution network to carefully manage both production and supply models. The company demands exacting standards throughout its work and expects a vibrant, energetic, passionate and ambitious outlook from all of its employees.

In an almost “tale of two cities” style scenario The Juice Corporation has turned around its supply chain practices moving away from an ageing AS400 Platform to a Microsoft Dynamics NAV based solution. This “rags to riches” tale of supply chain excellence has facilitated an increased awareness amongst staff of being able to work smarter at every level of the business.

The challenge for this well-established fashion house was to engage all aspects of its supply chain operations with K3 implementing Microsoft Dynamics NAV and K3’s Pebblestone fashion specific module between 50 users working over three sites for this highly respected brand icon.

This proved to be a heady task, as workers within The Juice Corporation were grappling with their existing AS400 server and a plethora of Excel spreadsheet based reporting, resulting in a silo mentality and a daily grind, limiting the staffs’ ability to meet the needs of the fast moving world of the Fashionistas.

After initial talks with K3 in 2012 the long term plan for The Juice Corporation was to engage a comprehensive service that would allow the company to integrate all areas of its business into one system, including Warehousing, Marketing, Planning, Procurement & Supply Chain, PLM, PDM, Inventory, Financials, Executive dashboards and operational day to day reporting.

This was to prove to be a task that was not without its teething problems.

The Juice Corporation Company demands exacting standards throughout its workforce and expects a vibrant, energetic, passionate and ambitious outlook from all its employees, and supply chain members alike.

“The challenge was to engage all aspects of its supply chain operations with K3 implementing Microsoft Dynamics NAV”

“We really desired new efficiencies in order to support growth in all aspects of our trading”

No more “clunky” starts to the day

Rose explains that before teaming up the K3 the original working day at The Juice Corporation would revolve around an AS400 server with a JBA System 21 running Excel spreadsheet based reporting. Although the system is regarded as legendary within manufacturing and retail operations the Juice Corporation workers needed to engage with the simple to use technology of today and this is where K3’s knowledge and expertise paid dividends as they guided the company’s quest for a better working platform looking forward

“The system we were then using was not ideal but it allowed us to function in a kind of “clunky” format when what we really wanted was a system that would allow us to build a better, smarter and more agile business platform, that delivered to the staff and management a seamless view of the entire business.

“The K3 team put a lot of effort into listening to what we had to say and where our problems lay. They helped us choose the exact bolt ons that we needed and all this input now allows us to save both time and labour.”

Rose cites the K3 Pebblestone tools as giving the business exactly what it needed. “This along with the very smart Directors level Qlickview reporting tool was an eye opener for us. The overall new efficiencies found within our reporting schedules means that we can now grow our business using the same number of staff”.

“We have ditched the “silo” mentality that had people working long hours in order to achieve our end goals and also permitted “hiding places”, resulting in incomplete work, creating duplication of effort. He goes on to say, “In this business information flow and total visibility is king and thanks to seeing this project through we have a much clearer perspective, from the top to the bottom of the business”.

A recent K3 organised event that Rose believes created a better understanding of the IT end of The Juice Corporation’s business model was the “A Day In The Life Of The Juice Corporation.” This was a hands-on question and answer session hosted by K3’s consultancy team.

“They chaired the session and the diligence shown by their team and their understanding of best business practices; also leveraging our “in industry” expertise allowed the exchange of knowledge that proved to be very beneficial to all of us, especially when it came to assisting us with best accounting practice. This session was part of our ongoing liaison with their consulting and account management team and the day proved that they are willing to go the extra mile in after care provision,” adds Rose.

Working alongside Rose during the second phase of the project was Jo Swift, The Juice Corporation’s Head of their pre-eminent

Growing the Business

John Rose, Director of Management and Resources, who acted as the Internal Project Manager at The Juice Corporation takes up the story.

“After talks with K3 it was obvious that our AS400 server based platform and associated software was not going to be up to the task of helping us grow our business model and we needed to look at a simpler, integrated, almost one touch solution for our day to day working culture,” explains Rose

“We really desired new efficiencies in order to support growth in all aspects of our trading and we originally felt the implementation of a standard K3/ Microsoft Dynamics NAV based solution was desired, though ultimately K3 and Juice worked together to provide the customisations that make The Juice Corporation unique and support our working methodologies. This meant that we had to stringently review our plans and take a second look at what we needed to do”.

“In hindsight, we had engaged an in-house consultant who was starting to take the whole project down the wrong path for our needs so we probably got off to a false start and went back to K3 and laid our cards on the table. It was then that we realised that we needed to take joint action to get things to move in the right direction for us”.

“After some forthright talking and soul searching it was decided that, with guidance from K3’s consultancy arm, we should get to grips with the system and flush out all the problems that we were encountering. We then quickly drew up a working template that was delivered against our ultimate objectives.

“I would say that with the best will in the world, anyone who is looking at a total change in their operating platform and resultant process changes, should realistically look at including a 25% contingency in their project budget in order to achieve any fine tuning to support day to day activities.”

“The K3 team put a lot of effort into listening to what we had to say and where our problems lay. They helped us choose the exact bolt ons that we needed and all this input now allows us to save both time and labour.”

“Using the system every day gave us confidence to maximise K3’s Pebblestone Fashion and use the integrated set of tools to our best advantage. This, after all, was a major change for us.”

Ironing out the problems

Swift admits that there were underlying problems to rectify when she was called upon to lend her assistance. Having worked for The Juice Corporation for over 16 years Swift knew exactly what was needed on the ground floor of the operation.

“Initially there were a few holes and issues that we needed to iron out, to create a tailored system which worked for our business,” says Swift. We needed to revisit the nitty-gritty of the system in order to achieve this goal. The K3 team brought their guidance and expertise to the table and then it was down to us internally to agree the revised recommendations. Resistance to change will always be an issue in any business but between the members of the project team we managed to overcome early doubts and found faith and put our trust in the new system’s capabilities.”

Swift says that early on in the hand over stage the super users at The Juice Corporation would be in daily contact gleaning support from K3. “This hand holding period was very helpful but we very quickly got to grips with the day to day workings and soon the daily dialogue was not called for”.

“Using the system every day gave us confidence to maximise K3’s Pebblestone Fashion and use the integrated set of tools to our best advantage. This, after all, was a major change for us.”

“Now we have a much quicker working platform to hand. The automation makes procurement a lot easier and allows a much less labour intensive environment. In common with all systems, the system is only as good as the information that the user puts into it therefore ongoing training is essential but the benefits are very positive, greater visibility throughout the business ensuring every department can now see the full Product Life cycle.

“This is something that we previously did not experience and means that we are now working in a smarter, more agile environment that will enable a more confident outlook and that has to be good for our future business.”

Reporting is king

Swift explains that thanks to the new working process it is now far easier to call up information relating to the life cycle of a garment. “Speed of accurate information and delivery is paramount in our working environment and the fact that we are now not relying on highly detailed spreadsheets sits well with the majority of the workforce.”

“This is still a family run business but we are now working in the most structured way we have ever known. We have freed up many areas of manpower and have more resources available thanks to our new business processes.

Swift reflects: “We desperately needed to lean on K3’s resources during the first 12 months of this project and their support was vital. Despite a few run ins early on we quickly overcame our issues and have ultimate trust in their ability to get things done and work in partnership with us to solve any problems that we may encounter,”.

“Having given time to bed this totally new solution into the culture of the company we look forward to a constructive business relationship, building on our partnership with K3 and looking forward to the new developments and enhancements that will benefit our business as they become available” concludes Rose.