Retail is an ultra-competitive arena, with the supermarket sector arguably leading the charge in this tough business environment. Store design, development and maintenance are mission critical to the future of a chain’s brand and must be tightly controlled by management if consistent standards and planned growth are to be achieved.
Bernard Novell, Building Standards Manager at Waitrose, explains the situation, "Like most large organisations, we had a system to help us manage this complex process; it had, however, become extremely cumbersome and unproductive."
"Over time, problems developed which rendered it unmanageable. Duplication issues, for example, made regular updating of information very unreliable and the resultant inconsistencies had serious cost implications. Naturally, users lost confidence in the system and every project required extra
work just to correct and verify data."
"We knew we had to find a solution quickly that would optimise future projects and manage existing stores. As a consequence, we began scanning the market place to find a data control and integration system which would provide the scope and flexibility we needed."
The grocery giant considered six alternatives prior to choosing the ICON System. Novell again,
"Some of the systems we evaluated appeared untrustworthy, whilst others were not suitable because store fitting was only a small part of their functionality."
"The ICON System, on the other hand, was tailored specifically to our needs. Based on good database driven methodology, it was already
being successfully operated by other organisations in a similar way to our own needs and that gave us the confidence that it would deliver for Waitrose."
"It was vital for us to have accurate real-time information whenever we needed it and the ICON System provided this guarantee. It made it easier in areas such as accessing detailed drawings of a building, ensuring compliance with standards, health and safety issues, assessing project costs and accessing previous supplier information for store re-fits or new-builds."
A Partnership for Profit
"As part of the John Lewis Partnership," continues Novell, "We pride ourselves on being a people
focused organisation that is passionate about good customer service. ICON thrives on building good
relationships with its clients and that fitted in perfectly with the Waitrose ethos - no one else
offered the same level of personal service as ICON."
Delivering the Solution
"The implementation was much easier than we anticipated," enthuses Novell,
"This is largely because the ICON team was so proactive and helpful. From the off, an Associate Director took total responsibility for the implementation. To meet the agreed timescales,
they ensured the right level of input was provided throughout the process. What is more, they still look after the system today."
"When we went live in February 2006 the transition was remarkably smooth and easy. Once
users had been trained, information was readily available to access and easy to amend. The database can
now be updated at any time and this gives us better control over store design changes or new build
projects, saving us time and money."
"Despite the fact that the system deals with extremely complex issues, it is easy to
use and navigate. It has been created with a good structure that enables very quick response times to
requests and modifications. Also, it is quite intuitive in its use of images and text, providing a basic
logic for everyone to find what they need, when they need it."
Waitrose still publishes a manual 'Brand Guard' book periodically, but users normally access the
detailed data online, confident they can rely on the accuracy of the website data at any time.
Waitrose has recently rolled out its new
‘Mark 5’ store design and Novell is buoyant about the future, "We have a ‘Delivering Growth’ plan, to develop and open a large number of
different format stores over the next few years and it would be very difficult to meet these ambitious plans without the accuracy and reliability of the ICON System."
"It can handle different store formats, generate information on different store
designs and highlight to architects what is needed for each specific design." The System is regularly
accessed by hundreds of internal and external users. This includes architects, contractors, store
planners, developers, engineering and maintenance staff. In addition, in order to co-ordinate and
control ongoing store development, Waitrose now has branches using the system to identify Non Selling
lines more accurately.
Novell concludes, "The level of support from ICON has been outstanding; with technically competent staff, their people are experienced, friendly and approachable. They really understand our issues
and has that 'can do' attitude when it comes to finding a solution to issues."
"I am really pleased we took the decision to use ICON system and would recommend it to any organisation wanting to manage construction and design projects efficiently and effectively."
Waitrose Building Standards website (using The ICON System)
Searching the website
to locate a specification.
The website showing the
specification of a 'double sided island gondola'.
The same gondola as installed
in a new store.
Working through the site, users are able to locate all the
specification information they need.
In the Properties & Projects part of the ICON System,
Waitrose holds videos taken at each store.