Retail Solutions - Unwins begins £6m upgrade of its in-store and HQ systems

Unwins, the UK's second-largest drinks retailer, has started to roll out a huge rip and replace of its store and HQ systems, costing the company£6 million.

Following a review of its existing 15-year-old systems, comprising applications built in-house running on Olivetti store hardware, the retailer decided to undertake a radical upgrade, including a SAP-integrated management environment.

The retailer has also decided to invest in a broadband virtual private network (VPN) set up by Tivoli. VPNs link stores and HQ using the same technology that runs the Internet, cutting the cost of connectivity.

Wincor Nixdorf EPoS hardware running Retail Java software will be installed in-store. The infrastructure is managed through a suite of IBM Tivoli applications set up by value-added reseller Elyzium.

'The Tivoli systems give us a snapshot of how all of our infrastructure is operating and ensure a high level of systems availability across the estate,' said Unwins IT director Richard Rotter. 'With this integrated system, we will get a centralised view of the company's stock, from warehouse to store and in transit.'

The retailer has trialled the system in 11 stores and will proceed to roll it out to the other 378 in its estate by the end of October.

'Unwins has several ongoing initiatives, such as developing new store formats,' said Rotter. 'This upgrade allows us to do things such as different pricing and ranging. We see this technology as a facilitator, whereas what we have is a very rigid architecture, making it difficult to react to changes in customer trends.'