Ethel Austin’s i OS Implementation Goes Au Naturale
April 14, 2009 Alex Woodie
Au Naturale, a chain of 40 clothing and houseware stores in the U.K., has moved onto its parent company’s i OS-based merchandise management system (MMS), MMS developer Island Pacific Systems announced last week. Despite being run on the same system, the Island Pacific MMS is able to keep the two chains’ accounts and operations separate.
Au Naturale was taken over last May by Ethel Austin, a 300-store clothing company that itself had just been bought by Elaine Gray, a respected player in the British clothing store industry. After the acquisition, Gray disclosed plans to sell some of Au Naturale’s success products in Ethel Austin stores, but to keep the stores separate.
This mandate to keep things separate presented a small challenge to Ethel Austin’s internal IT staff, which has been using Island Pacific’s core MMS system since 1993. The vendor says its RPG-based software includes enough flexibility to combine the product files, order, and warehousing components, but to process and maintain sales data separately.
“We were keen to bring everything onto one platform,” said Martin Draper, group head of IT at Ethel Austin, “so [we] needed to use Island Pacific across the 30 stores that Au Naturale was being introduced to. This was purchased at no additional cost, because of the way our existing license works. Not only has this saved purchasing costs, but it has also created real efficiencies with merchandising and buying workflow.”
The transfer of Au Naturale was completed last August, with no interruption to the businesses, says Mike Dotson, Island Pacific’s European managing director.
Ethel Austin has been an obedient Island Pacific customer. It utilizes all modules in the MMS, including merchandising, warehousing, sales audit, and finance, and has dutifully applied every upgrade. The company is on the most current release of the Island Pacific MMS, version 3.2.