Maidenhead Aquatics all started in one pet shop where the founder and current CEO David Lawrence, then only 20, saw the potential to grow as a specialist aquatics company nationwide. With the help of five friends (the current board) all of whom worked with him in his first two stores Maidenhead has expanded from one modest shop to 143 outlets as of December 2015.
This passion for aquatics has in turn spread to the rest of the business where considerable knowledge and enthusiasm can be found in each store; allowing for each branch to grow with its own character and specialities.
Relatively speaking growth has been rapid. In 2007 there were 80 stores, in 2010, 104 and by the end of 2016 they will be looking to have reached 160.
When the Head Office function was created in 2007 they recognised immediately that they needed to replace the accounts and business admin functions that were outsourced to a bookkeeper and an accountancy firm. “We knew exactly what we needed for our new in-house department; we didn’t even have to think about anything except Sage 200, because we knew it did everything we needed.”
They continued, “We were looking for a system that was flexible to cope with the smallest and the largest stores, was able to expand, could adapt to the flexible corporate structure and provide consistency of reporting for the different stores.”
Significantly in 2007 there were 80 separate Sage entities within the company. This caused endless problems with a lack of efficiency thanks to disparate systems.
In many ways Maidenhead was set up in a similar way to a start-up. This then led to a lack of visibility. For example, annual accounts were only visible six months after year end and success was measured by looking at the bank account.
The Maidenhead board were correct and Sage 200 did tick all the boxes. On top of that they also now use Invu for document management and Spindle.
The results that were clear straight away were:
Visibility of financials
Being able to see the business finances at the click of a button
Monthly accounts were quick and easy
Whilst these were expected there were many benefits that took the Maidenhead team by surprise. The combination of bringing finance in house with a brand new system enabled them to grow significantly and efficiently.
In 2007 there were eight members of the finance team for 80 companies. Since then with the company growing by 100% the team is now at 14.
When we spoke to Duncan Ross, the Group Financial Controller at Maidenhead he spoke enthusiastically about how installing Sage 200 has allowed their finance team to focus on what is really important to them.
Spending money in the right place and focusing attention on problem areas has been crucial.
One good example recently was supplier’s delivery costs. Many of them have minimum order quantities and being able to league table who is charging what for these has allowed Maidenhead to cut costs and weigh up the pros and cons on who to use.
Ultimately, it comes down to efficiency. Working closely with Acuity has allowed us to work within a system that gives our finance team the ability to analyse the data and contribute positively to the company going forward.
The commercial is just as important as cost. Having accurate information enables better business decisions to be made - Duncan Ross
Would you recommend Acuity?
‘I was actually very happy to see Acuity were our partner when I arrived as I had worked with them before at my last job.
There are a number of positives that stand out for me but two in particular.
The first is that they do have the knowledge and experience within the industry that can add great value to us as a business. We cannot always be at the forefront of new technology and it’s great to be kept up to date on what could potentially help us.
Most importantly for me though, are people. People matter hugely to us as you know. After all, our business has been built upon that, upon people that care and provide a great service with continuity.’ - Duncan Ross
Choosing Acuity Solutions means choosing one of the top 5 global Sage business partners, with over 20 years' experience in the Sage product marketplace, we have previously held the Sage "Business Partner of the Year" awards for Sage X3 and Sage 300.