Harvey Nichols expects to finish a business intelligence consolidation project it has been working on throughout 2008 by the end of the present financial year.

In the past year the department store retailer has implemented the Merret BI system from Retail Assist, which is based on business intelligence technology from Board. The technology has replaced a system from Hyperion, which was being used for financial reporting. It is now in the process of replacing its Arthur Planning system and a Business Objects system, which was used for sales reporting and analytics.

Harvey Nichols senior business systems manager Alistair McDonald said that the replacement of the Business Objects system should be completed imminently. “We are probably about three quarters of the way through rolling out the reports, and buyers and merchandisers can now create ad-hoc reports, whereas they could only view standard ones before. We expect to finish that in the next month,” he said.

In addition, Harvey Nichols has been able to use the system for planning and forecasting activity, which was previously done on “hundreds of spreadsheets”, according to McDonald.

The biggest benefit to the retailer seen so far is a reduction in the time taken for reports to be run from between 30 and 60 minutes to being almost instant.

The next stage of the project, when the system replacing Arthur Planning will go live, is expected to occur before the end of the financial year.

McDonald said that in the next financial year Harvey Nichols will start to examine how it can expand the system to include its customer database, which will give the company another way to view shopper information.

Other potential extensions of the system to be considered include deploying data directly to executives’ BlackBerrys and also at the point of sale in stores.