4 minute read • published in partnership with K3 Syspro
Case Study: How Millbrook Beds embraced ERP to boost productivity and drive growth
Southampton-based Millbrook Beds embraced the powers of SYSPRO to boost productivity and explore new opportunities. Since implementing its new centralised ERP system in 2013, the family-owned business has seen orders from the independent retail sector increase by 300%. Improved insight and agility have enabled the manufacturer to meet the demands of 400 additional customers.
Millbrook Group began its journey in 1946 as a small upholstery and bedding workshop in Southampton. The business began supplying upholstery to luxury cruise liners and soon grew into a successful group, diversifying into a range of different sectors. Its manufacturing arm, Millbrook Beds, employs around 100 staff and is renowned for its handcrafted beds and mattresses.
Millbrook Beds is on an impressive growth trajectory, underpinned by growth in the independent retail sector. Yet managing that growth and delivering the vision of an ambitious leadership team hasn’t been without its challenges. In 2005, the board recognised that it couldn’t deliver its strategic vision with its existing IT infrastructure and embarked on a search for a new ERP solution.
Millbrook’s commercial director, Andrew Longland, recalls: “Our manufacturing operation was really being held back by an outdated network. We were using a highly bespoke Infoflo system which really restricted what we could do. It had no open connectivity and all changes had to be made by a programmer, which was very costly. We couldn’t interpret the data we were inputting and found that the system was failing to flex with business needs. We’re an entrepreneurial business but were unable to respond to changing customer requirements.”
Andrew began a comprehensive search for a new ERP solution. He looked at 28 different systems before opting for SYSPRO. The system would allow the business to extract, interpret, analyse and report critical business information. Its ease of use meant that changes could be made rapidly without the need for specialist programmers. Its integration with other types of software ensures that everyone has access to up-to-date data to inform their decisions.
Reaping the rewards
Millbrook began implementing SYSPRO through different areas of the group before it went live for SYSPRO Beds in 2013. The new system revolutionised the way the business could operate. The manufacturer uses a variety of modules to optimise performance across the factory, including Material Requirements Planning (MRP), purchasing, sales, stock and accounts.
“We finally had an agile system for an agile business,” says Andrew. “We’ve got all the information we need at our fingertips, thanks to refreshable Excel reports covering every aspect of the operation. These show us the pinch points and we can respond minute by minute. Having everything integrated into one system is utopia. People are no longer constantly transferring data, and everyone is looking at live data.”
Accessing new business opportunities
In 2018, the company was crowned Small Bed Manufacturer of the Year by the National Bed Federation. The award came on the back of robust performance and commitment to new product development.
Andrew says: “We’re growing at a phenomenal rate, and the sales figures are incredible. That wouldn’t be possible without SYSPRO. With our previous system, we simply couldn’t be flexible or responsive enough to make that happen. It used to take the best part of two weeks to complete a bill of materials for a new mattress; we can now do it in a day, which makes it far easier to launch new products.”
Improved capabilities have also allowed Millbrook to meet the needs of increasingly demanding customers. Access to real-time data has facilitated a far more effective infrastructure and helped streamline operations. In September 2019, the business launched its new Fast Track service, which guarantees delivery of certain products directly to the consumer’s door within 48 hours. This is groundbreaking within the sector and is only possible because of SYSPRO MRP dictating what needs manufacturing when to efficiently replenish stock.
Andrew explains: “Without SYSPRO we simply wouldn’t have the time to launch new products and initiatives. Everyone was too busy data crunching and desperately trying to interpret data. All staff can now be far more productive because they have all the information they need. That’s meant that we’ve grown the business without having to increase headcount. Simply put, we can do more with fewer people.”
In addition, Millbrook Beds has begun supplying own-branded/white-label products to a major UK retailer. The high volumes required meant that the manufacturer relied on SYSPRO to handle a much higher volume of work. This meant managing weekly bulk orders and effectively planning production and distribution without disrupting business for other customers. SYSPRO traceability also enables Millbrook to comply with the retailer’s special requirements.
Staying ahead of the game
Millbrook is currently operating SYSPRO 6.1 and during Easter 2020 intends to upgrade to SYSPRO 8. Andrew recently attended K3 Syspro’s annual Customer Day and was inspired by what the new release has to offer.
In particular, he’s excited by the ability to access the system via a mobile device. Many of the manufacturer’s workforce spend a lot of time out of the office. By adopting Avanti and Espresso, Millbrook can enable them to access whatever information they need, from wherever they may be, via their smartphone or device.
Andrew concludes: “That will make us even more agile. It’s an exciting time for the business, and SYSPRO will play an integral role in our continued growth journey.”