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Beauty firm grows into major retail supplier with SYSPRO ERP

A global beauty business has grown from a company that supplies beauty spas into a leading retail supplier with the help of a scalable and fully integrated SYSPRO Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution at its heart.

PZ Cussons Beauty, which supplies personal care and beauty products to high street retailers including Boots, has grown through a series of acquisitions to become the leading international beauty manufacturer it is today. And throughout that period of sustained growth, the entire business has been underpinned by an advanced ERP solution provided by business solutions expert K3 Syspro (K3).

Formed by the acquisition and merger of four previously individual beauty firms, PZ Cussons comprises of leading spray tan brand St. Tropez, Sanctuary Spa, hair styling expert Charles Worthington and professional hair care brand Fudge & Fudge Urban. The FTSE 250 company, as it exists today, inherited SYSPRO from Sanctuary Spa and has since developed the system to accommodate the other three brands.

Ann Masson, Finance Director at PZ Cussons Beauty takes up the story: “Sanctuary Spa originally implemented SYSPRO in 2005 to enable the company to make the transition from a business that operated beauty spas into a product supply business. When we acquired Sanctuary Spa in 2008, we made the decision to retain SYSPRO because SYSPRO was already integrated into our spa reservation system, Premier Spa, and communicating data with it, so it was an obvious choice to continue using it.”

As PZ Cussons Beauty expanded, as part of a drive to create a department focused on high end, prestige goods, the system was scaled up to incorporate the other three acquired businesses. Today, SYSPRO is operated in tandem with another SYSPRO solution that the company implemented at its US site, and has played a key role in enabling the company to become a major player in the retail supply chain.

Communication data between different systems and locations
K3 Syspro subsequently introduced PZ Cussons Beauty to DataSwitch, a powerful data manipulation and systems integration tool which works with SYSPRO to communicate data between different IT systems. DataSwitch was already in place on a small scale to exchange data between the Advanced Warehouse Management (AWM) solution used by the company’s UK third party distribution centre and SYSPRO. This is the preferred system used in PZ Cussons Beauty’s UK and US offices to formalise all Electronic Data Interchanges (EDI), which have now become flat file transfers through DataSwitch.

The role of DataSwitch has become much more than just a warehousing communication tool though, and has supported the company’s transition from beauty spa business to a major high street supplier. PZ Cussons Beauty operates a supply planning system which operates using order demand history and other data taken from the US and UK SYSPRO systems. It also provides seamless EDI collaboration, and without this the company would not have been able to trade with major retailers.

Ann Masson explains: “It used to take us a lot of time to carry out this process manually, before we automated it with SYSPRO. Since then, we have been able to completely eliminate the time we used to spend on data input, and the accuracy of our data has been improved because there is less room for human error with an automated process. We previously had no EDI connection with trading partners or supply planning, so this has been instrumental in the growth of our recent sales provision.”

Enabling product innovation
Once SYSPRO had aided PZ Cussons in its transition to a major retail provider, the system was further adapted to aid the company’s e-commerce facility. PZ Cussons trades via e-commerce through each of its individual brands. SYSPRO manages and supports that e-commerce activity through its sales import and export functions, which means it is able to communicate every e-commerce order to the warehouse and the distribution centre, enabling the company to quickly respond to the demands of the consumer market.

Zoe Cunningham, who is the IT Business Partner for PZ Cussons, says the flexibility and scalability of SYSPRO are key to the company as it continues to evolve. She says, “Part of the growth strategy at PZ Cussons is brand and product innovation and this stretches throughout our sales processes, so e-commerce is a key facility for us to have. The way SYSPRO manages our order information and communicates this across the business streamlines the entire process.

“Because SYSPRO is customisable, we can adapt and scale it up as we grow and this has made it logical to continue operating SYSPRO as the company has grown over the last few years. We rely on SYSPRO for many of our day-to-day working processes and it has become an integral part of both our US and our UK business.”

K3 Syspro was also responsible for the implementation of SYSPRO at PZ Cussons’ US site and is hosting the company’s data on the secure K3 cloud network. The UK site deploys SYSPRO on premise because it has the resources and skills required to host and manage its own data. The different deployment methods do not affect the seamless way in which the two systems communicate.

Flexible and tailored support
Just as PZ Cussons is making the most of a flexible and scalable SYSPRO solution, it is also benefitting from a tailored support package provided by K3 Syspro. Due to the company’s road map for growth and acquisition strategy, it needs SYSPRO to continue to grow with the business and evolve as the structure of the business changes. This means that it works very closely with the technical support team at K3 to develop SYSPRO and make the most of the company’s ERP investment. As a result, K3 has tailored a bespoke support package for PZ Cussons Beauty in order to provide the ongoing support and assistance required.

“K3 are very accommodating when it comes to their support packages and worked with us to design a package built around how we use SYSPRO. We have more consistent access to their consultants and hold quarterly meetings with them to assess our use of SYSPRO and explore ways we can get even more efficiencies out of the system,” explains Ann Masson.

“Our relationship with K3 is excellent. They have great expertise and are always willing to help us when we need them to. It is reassuring to know that such great support is available at the end of the phone when we need it. As we continue to evolve PZ Cussons Beauty I’m sure that SYSPRO and K3 will remain a key part of this and we are excited about what the future holds.”

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