Cooks has invested in a new system for capturing sales and trading information across its 120 bakery shops. The company previously used manual systems for recording sales data, which were often slow and incomplete. A broadened product range, introduced across all Cooks stores, increased the pressure on store managers to maintain their stock more effectively.

The new web-based system, supplied by Alphameric Hospitality, feeds information back to head office instantly and is tailored to the needs of bakery retail. Previous customers of Alphameric include companies such as Costa Coffee and West Cornwall Pasty Co.

Richard Prime, finance director at Cooks, comments: "When I joined Cooks, I recognised an immediate need to introduce an integrated solution to address the business issues caused by using outdated manual systems. At that time, we had no measurement of products purchased and no recording of stock, sales made or wastage. We were receiving handwritten and often illegible documents from our outlets and, as a management team, we were unable to make the rapid business decisions needed in this competitive market."

Initially, the company installed InnTouch, Alphameric’s touchscreen point-of-sale tilling and, later, this was integrated with various Caterwide software packages. At the same time, it replaced its outdated central finance system with Caterwide Dimension, a solution tailored to deal with the requirements of the hospitality market. The system can be accessed via Cooks’ tills and the information is immediately available at head office.

direct orders

All Cooks’ outlets place their ingredient orders directly with suppliers. Once the deliveries arrive at the individual stores, the contents of each delivery note are booked into Caterwide by the store manager while the invoice later arrives into the system at head office. Caterwide then links each ingredient to a predefined recipe and reports on the sale as finished product, wastage or transfer.

Before Cooks implemented Alphameric’s solution, it employed 18 people to reconcile weekly store banking, process payroll and in its accounts department. With Alphameric’s system in place, Cooks has now reduced that number by over 50%.

"The numbers speak for themselves," says Prime. "Our trading information is more accurate, which means our customer service is improving and our wastage decreasing. Ultimately, we were looking for a solution that would enable us to view detailed sales information, but also enable comprehensive analysis, so we could become more proactive on driving product promotions in-store or removing products that were under-performing." n