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End-to-end Retail Management

How East Anglia Federal Co-operative Society (EAFCS) streamlined their operations.

End-to-end Retail Management

How East Anglia Federal Co-operative Society (EAFCS) streamlined their operations.


East Anglia Federal Co-operative Society (EAFCS) was set up in 1983 by three local societies to carry out the procurement and distribution of supplies for their food stores. Today the three societies' food retail business turns over £349 million, with 268,000 members and employs 3,000 staff.

EAFCS has an improvement and modernisation programme for their existing retail stores running alongside an acquisition and development programme which drove the need to replace their existing retail head office management systems.

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The Challange

Legacy systems and limited functionality.

With 126 outlets ranging in size from village shops to superstores, and an increasing emphasis on local and neighbourhood stores servicing their customers, EAFCS needed a retail management system to address mounting business complexity.

The three societies sought to replace the existing retail head office system, which was limited in functionality and duplicated processes across the business. Both the Colchester and Ipswich societies were using Trader, a bureau-based system. Chelmsford was using the head office element of their own EPOS system.

A new system needed to work alongside the warehouse system but remove duplication. It needed to provide sophisticated product, price, and stock management while optimising ranges in-store. Finally, it needed to integrate with EAFCS’s SA400-based business applications and the Societies’ EPOS and financial systems.

The Solution

Simplification, control and efficiency.

htec deployed a single, fully integrated and centralised operational system phased in across the business. From head office to point-of-sale, from warehouse to web, operating in true real-time.

Having been approached by EAFCS, htec began by building a clear understanding of both the strategic and operational retail issues through in-depth consultation.

This insight enabled htec solution architects to recommend a deployment of ab-initio, htec’s multi-site retail management solution that provides robust head office functionality with a user-friendly interface and navigation system.

htec experts worked alongside EAFCS teams to plan and deliver a phased implementation and continue to provide support to ensure the business can extract the maximum value from the solution and the data it delivers.

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The Results

The unified product database, which takes product and price related data from suppliers has eliminated the heavy burden of administrative duplication and is central to the main outcomes, including:

  • Increased efficiency at store level and head office
  • Ease of integration with other business applications
  • Central control and improved accuracy
  • Flexibility with a user-friendly interface
  • True visibility: bringing information together with one holistic view from EPOS to warehouse

The value of ab-initio’s single product database is also illustrated by the close integration it brings to warehouse and retail data, which has significantly reduced the occurrence of items failing to scan at point-of-sale, improving customer experience.


Improved range control ensures each store is profiled correctly. Combined with centrally managed pricing/promotions this enables EAFCS to meet local member and customer demand and reward loyalty.

Built upon the bedrock of the product database, ab-initio’s sophisticated catalogue management has provided the necessary controls and flexibility required to underpin store specific product ranging and pricing strategies.

In Our Customer's Words...

“ab-initio's store specific ranging and product management gives us the infrastructure and solid foundations to support inventory management and suggested ordering in our stores. Combined with ab-initio's flexible pricing mechanisms, it grants us capabilities to satisfy the needs of our membership and customers, in turn, building loyalty. I am confident that ab-initio’s flexibility will support our future business strategies.”

John Dixey, Systems Manager, EAFCS