“Greentree has given us a base on which we can grow – without it we’d have found that very, very difficult.”
Alistair Tusting is the Production Director for JR Tusting, one of Britain’s largest and best regarded makers of quality leather luggage and other bags. The company has a 150-year history in the leather trade and Alistair’s is the fifth generation of the family to run the business.
Tusting bags are synonymous with style and elegance. One of their best-known owners is the Duchess of Cambridge, in a list that also includes fashion guru David Evans, acclaimed blogger Ruth ’Dorkymum’ Dawkins, and renowned artist/globetrotter David McEwan. Tusting owners are encouraged to register their bags with the company, to cement their ongoing relationship.
“We’re not doing a ’pile it high, sell it cheap’ operation,” says Alistair, “we’re making specifically for customer requirements and we want to make sure they’re getting what they want all the time.”
The Tusting brand has a large affluent customer base in the UK, the USA and Japan, and the company also produces goods for Aston Martin, Church’s Shoes and Marks & Spencer. However, an even more substantial part of the business involves sourcing products from Asia aimed at the mid-range market. The need to diversify, to manage stock better and have greater visibility of performance led Tusting to shopping for a new business system. Its choice was Greentree.Tusting’s Sage Line 50 accounting system had served it for 15 years, but its limitations were holding back development.
“As a headline financial reporting system Sage was okay, but it provided no detail of what was actually happening underneath that level to manage the business,” Alistair says. “We also have stock in a number of different locations, both in the UK and overseas, and our visibility of inventory movement and usage was very poor.”
Customer service, which Tusting prides itself on, was also tricky. Over- or under-stocking of materials was a regular, costly problem. There was too much reliance on manual spreadsheets, and the tracking of invoices and shipping records was a frustrating time-waster.
Reporting was a tedious task - it would take upwards of three days to produce a month-end report. Tusting deals in sterling, US dollars and euros, which required more manual intervention to get accurate figures.As well as solving all those problems, Tusting wanted to be able to store more information about its customers, in order to grow the e-commerce side of its business. Microsoft Dynamics NAV impressed initially, but there was a feeling that such a big name would require the business to fit the product, rather than the other way around. Greentree’s flexibility and storage capabilities won the day.
“We liked the way it worked and the visibility of information,” Alistair recalls, “but also critically we felt the Greentree Partner would be committed to solving the problems we would encounter along the way.”
Since then, JR Tusting’s problems have largely disappeared. The company now has live visibility of thousands of square metres of products in its various locations, and a much better understanding of what its customers are buying.
Because Greentree can store verbal data as well as stock codes, it’s simplified inventory control. Currency management is also easier and much more transparent.
“It’s allowed us to build a more organised structure within the business around using that data,” Alistair says. “It’s now clearer what needs to be done for each department. It’s enabled us to move from simple management to actually improving the way we run the business.”Paperwork has shrunk significantly because all the data is visible instantly in Greentree and is largely managed electronically. The company’s designers are now also able to add electronic specifications sheets for products into Greentree, which has helped to reduce errors in orders.
“Our customer relations have improved because we’re now proactive in giving them information, rather than them having to ask for it,” Alistair says.
The task of generating month-end reports has gone from several days to about 30 minutes. Alistair can do that himself without help from the accounts department.
“With Sage, the information we had could be up to three weeks old,” he says. “Now it’s available in real-time. From my Workflow desktop I can see the status of all the orders and stock levels, and what everyone is doing. When I first saw that in action, I knew we’d made the right decision.
“Greentree is enabling us to focus on the core activities we need to build the business going forward. Without it we’d really be struggling now; with it we’ve got fantastic opportunities ahead of us.”