British shirtmaker Hilditch and Key replaces spreadsheet 'guesswork' with SAP’s Business ByDesign

Traditional shirtmakers Hilditch and Key finds wholesalers are beginning to ‘sit up and take notice’ now they have deployed an SAP suite to support its traditional tailoring firm.

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Hilditch & Key, one of the few remaining British shirt manufacturer and men’s retailers, has rolled out SAP's Business ByDesign suite to replace Excel spreadsheets and various manual processes previously used to manage its operations. 

Since chief executive Steve Millar  took the reins 18 months ago, the firm has seen a change from “pen and paper” system – and a combination of Excel spreadsheets and Sage at its most technical - to the SAP suite, which is aimed at smaller businesses and subsidiaries. 

Stock control and supply and demand were just “guesswork” before, Millar told ComputerworldUK. Now, with a branding change, a new website and a streamlined system for wholesale partners to plug in and pull data on orders and barcoding material, Millar’s team have improved customer service for its international customers who are “cash rich, but time poor,” through its online ordering services.

"Customer experience has improved and the staff infrastructure too - this new IT system has been an agent of change for employees, along with our rebrand," Millar said.

Established in 1899, Hilditch & Key has two flagship shops in London’s Jermyn Street and in Rue Di Rivoli in Paris. It counts Bloomingdales, Selfridges and Bon Marche in Paris amongst its wholesalers.

Working with service provider Mobile Cloud, Hilditch & Key deployed the SAP software to manage its operations from factory floor to retail stock management and multi-channel sales.

Employing around fifty people, and manufacturing its menswear in a factory in Edinburgh, it is a less than conventional SAP customer - however, its choice of vendor is boosting its credibility amongst wholesalers.

“In previous retail experience I used bespoke systems, for bespoke businesses, but they just didn’t work. Talking to others in the industry – like Burberry and Net-a-Porter – they use SAP," he said.

“When you tell other firms you are working with an SAP system, they sit up and take notice. We have spent a lot of money on SAP and it sells to us as a store going into the wholesale market.”