Brooks Brothers Tailors Technology for Transformation

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Brooks Brothers Tailors Technology for Transformation

05/22/2014
Brooks Brothers (www.brooksbrothers.com ), an American icon and one of the country's oldest clothing retailers, is rapidly expanding its presence. With operations in 600 locations across 30 countries, and a vision to expand aggressively, management has realized the increasing complexity of changing business dynamics.

To support growth, Brooks Brothers has set up distribution hubs in United States, Italy and Hong Kong. Coordination between dispersed offices was becoming a complex task; one which could not be addressed with the existing Excel-based processes. Rapid international store expansion, with the objective of creating a global organization, complicated matters further.

“We felt the need to realign our supply chain processes, customer-facing assets, organizational structure, and technology to support our future global omni-channel business model,” says Joe Dixon, senior vice president - Sourcing and Production, Brooks Brothers. “To achieve organization-wide transformation we realized the need for massive technology interventions. We set out with the aim of creating a global Inventory Management function and reorganizing the Merchandising, Production and Design teams to allow focus on global line development.”

Lack of visibility into the product development process was resulting in excess sampling, thereby escalating product development costs. “We could not see what was in work until late into the development cycle. As a result of this, we realized we were over developing, as there was no oversight on the process,” adds Dixon.

Brooks Brothers’ process of transformation began with the selection of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) technology platforms. “We needed a system which would enable a single source of data across the enterprise and provide seamless product information. Our aim was to select a PLM system which could improve our speed-to-market for new products and reduce the design-to-production time, while providing us the flexibility to capture local preferences and product requirements. Another critical component in the selection process was the ease with which we could integrate the new PLM system with our ERP,” says Dixon.

The team at Brooks Brothers evaluated multiple leading PLM products with the aim of selecting a solution that would allow the level of detail, finesse and expertise that makes Brooks Brothers’ products unique.

“We were very deliberate in our decision to select an industry leading PLM tool and leverage its built-in best practices to enhance our processes,” says Sahal Laher, executive vice president and CIO of Brooks Brothers. “We realized the need for a comprehensive solution which would address the requirements of Retail, Apparel, Accessories, and Footwear. From the very outset, we were quite clear that the PLM solution should address not only our current requirements, but also scale-up to support future business imperatives.”

With rapid value realization as the corner stone of the initiative, Brooks Brothers selected PTC’s Windchill FlexPLM (www.ptc.com ) solution and ITC Infotech (www.itcinfotech.com) as the implementation partner.

“PTC and ITC Infotech demonstrated the level of maturity and experience we were looking for. Both companies have an impeccable track record of providing significant value for our industry, with very strong references,” says Laher. “Our aggressive timelines mandated deep understanding of our business processes and priorities. ITC Infotech’s unparalleled experience of FlexPLM implementations made them the ideal partner for us.”

Dixon adds, “With the PLM solution, we wanted to hit the ground running. ITC Infotech ensured an accelerated on-time on-budget implementation, leveraging existing functionalities of the solution with minimum customizations. The resulting PLM solution is 95% out-of-the-box, which not only helps us leverage built-in best practices, but also makes future upgrades easy.”

The solution has created visibility and enabled better management of the design and product development process, which is helping Brooks Brothers move from two to four seasons. Its international sourcing offices now have real-time visibility and can work in parallel with the US office, creating a seamless global enterprise.

End-to-end visibility is reducing duplications as the solution is adopted across different parts of the organization. The associated cost reductions will continue to provide incremental benefits to Brooks Brothers.

“With the PLM solution, we have been able to create a truly collaborative organization. Cross-functional information sharing has become much easier. Comprehensive Fabric libraries allow fabric platforming across brands and divisions, aiding in better economies of scale. Our e-commerce, marketing, and overseas partners are now able to view line plans and collaborate in the design process. The ability to interface with the wholesale selling software is also leading to better line presentations,” says Dixon.

The success of this transformational initiative rested heavily on internal adoption, for which Brooks Brothers undertook a comprehensive Change Management program, training end-uses and setting up a “Super User” cross functional team for better buy-in.

“Results so far have been very encouraging. We started small, built a strong and solid foundation, from which we could scale-up rapidly. We are on target to develop new products and bring it to market faster and in a more cost effective manner,” concludes Laher.