Stocktake UK Limited adopt Belgravium's 'Atlanta' for licensed trade stock-checking

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Stocktake (UK), from an initial office covering the North West of England, has now grown into a market leader in the provision of first class stocktaking services to the licensed trades and hospitality industry.

Now with over 40 regional offices covering the UK, the company currently services over 1300 clients, from small Public Houses to National Corporate clients, providing accurate, easy to understand printed reports. These reports detail the entire stock control of customers businesses. Its client portfolio includes De Vere Hotels, Britannia Hotels, and Hydes & Robinsons Breweries.

The stocktakers operate their own business, within a dedicated franchise network to ensure the client's needs are always put first. Maintaining the highest professional standard is a major contributing factor in the success and growth of the company. The Stocktake UK team of professionals provides a full range of stocktaking services, using bespoke software which is tailored to the clients needs.

These services include:

  • Business Transfer Valuations
  • Financial Year End Certification
  • Periodical Stock Auditing
  • On-site printed reports
  • Multi Bar and Company Reporting
  • Corporate reporting facilities allowing results to be circulated to Head Offices and Area Managers on the day of the stock audit enabling an instant reaction and real-time managerial decisions
  • Secure Company access to On-line Reports via a secure web-site facility
  • EPOS PLU/ Consumption variation reports
  • Food stock control reports detailing Gross Profit, itemised by product
  • Personalised recommendations and consultation at every stock visit helping to maintain and improve profitability 

The majority of franchisees belong to the Institute of Licensed Trade Stock Auditors (ILTSA). The ILTSA is the only qualifying body for stock takers within the Licensed Trade, with members throughout the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Europe. All ILTSA qualified stock takers have proven their ability through professional training and extensive qualifying exams.

Most licensed retail premises consider stock control as an essential part of a profitable business. ILTSA members provide regular stocktaking and give advice on stock control with skill, integrity and direction for businesses of all sizes. The extensive training and examination process by which members qualify ensures that they have the necessary skills to provide an expert service.  The support and advice given by qualified ILTSA stock auditors is an essential part of the success of every licensed operation.

In 2004 Stephen Grantham, the owner of Stocktake UK, acquired Stockcheck Limited a Yorkshire-based franchise organisation with a further 38 offices nationwide, with a similar business profile to that of Stocktake UK. Stockcheck had always been pioneering with regard to the adoption of state-of-the-art IT tools that enhanced the efficiency of data collection for its franchisees. For a large number of years, Stockcheck equipped its stocktakers with DOS-based hand-held terminal, linked to a Windows back-end. The terminals provided product code identification, dynamic addition of products and locations as well as allowing the franchisee fast data transfer to a centralised master stock-taking system.

In more recent times the organisation recognised the need to migrate to a Windows front-end platform for the mobile terminal element of the system. This particular development was made somewhat easier by Stephens decision to develop this new software through his specialist software company, Software Solutions Ltd.  This organisation specialises in delivering cost effective bespoke business software across a broad range of industry sectors. Its portfolio of work includes custom interfaces for alarm and control systems, sales forecasting applications, and its core product of Stock Control software. The Software Solutions team has a wealth of experience with a broad range of database platforms, development tools and technologies. Its main area of expertise is with Microsoft platforms, and tools from Microsoft and Borland. Wherever possible, the company uses high productivity "Rapid application development" (RAD) tools such as Borland Delphi or Microsoft Visual Studio.

During 2005, through to early 2006, Software Solutions Ltd developed a CE.Net front-end software package that interfaces directly to the Stockcheck Windows back-end. This sophisticated but user-friendly package can handle a variety of data collection routines including delivery, sales, allowances, specific promotions etc. The underlying principal is that accurate stock checking identifies the overall financial impact of missing stock, in the form of a surplus / deficit trading summary. The software also allows for a full audit trail, with every data element captured being duly time-stamped. This allows subsequent analysis by order entered as well as by individual product.

Having now acquired a market-leading package from their sister company, StockCheck undertook a rigorous selection procedure to select a suitable Windows-based data capture terminal. Several manufacturers offerings were closely evaluated before the company opted for the Atlanta 8000 series from Belgravium. Stephen Grantham comments: We closely involved the franchisees in the selection process. Obviously, size and weight are important considerations as stock-taking personnel can be utilising their terminal for a full working day. We received many favourable comments about the overall ergonomics of the Atlanta and our comparisons with similar terminals highlighted that it was the smallest and lightest unit available. Ruggedness was another key factor. As an organisation weve never advocated basing solutions for the licensed trade around low cost PDAs, as they inevitably turn out not to be fit-for-purpose in the environment in which the franchisees are working.

Data handling capacity and speed was also paramount for Stockcheck. Prior to visiting a licensed premises or hotel, the franchisee will download full product and stock details relating to that establishment on to the hand held unit. Once the stock check is completed then the reverse procedure is conducted, with the Atlanta terminal transmitting initially to the franchisees laptop, which, in turn, synchronises with the centralised master server. The system, developed with Delphi, consolidates the data from multiple locations within a clients chain of premises. Stephen Grantham again, The Atlanta units have proved to be more than man enough for the job we intended them for. Weve had no reported problems with performance or reliability. One initial problem we had was that Belgraviums standard charging and communication cradle for the Atlanta was a desk-based model. Our franchisees are mobile and required a small charging cradle and the option to charge from a standard three-pin electrical socket or an in-vehicle cigarette lighter socket. We were delighted when Belgravium stated that they would develop a bespoke cradle to suit our application, something that most other manufacturers would not contemplate. The cradle was developed rapidly and is now an integral and essential component within the overall solution.

Overall Stockcheck are delighted with the robustness of every component of the data capture system and, in particular, the performance of the Atlanta 8000 terminals.

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