Hard work done, Woolies CIO resigns

Retail giant Woolworths has lost CIO Stephen Bradley, who has overseen the major supply chain and logistics projects in the company's rationalisation program, Project Refresh.Bradley (pic) recently left to pursue consulting and charity work, according to a Woolworths spokesperson.

Retail giant Woolworths has lost CIO Stephen Bradley, who has overseen the major supply chain and logistics projects in the company's rationalisation program, Project Refresh.

Bradley (pic) recently left to pursue consulting and charity work, according to a Woolworths spokesperson.

He had been in charge of the key IT projects in the Refresh vision, which kicked off in 1999 and has reaped over AU$9 billion in savings. With Refresh in its final stages many key systems, such as the forecast-based replenishment systems for distribution centres (Stocksmart) and stores (AutoStockR), have been developed and integrated into business operations.

Woolworths has since promoted former general manager of IT services, Daniel Beecham, to the CIO position. A 12-year company veteran, Beecham started his new job on 14 May.

One of Beecham's first priorities will be to oversee the completion of the rollout of a common point of sale system across all Woolworths' businesses. Hundreds of Woolworths stores already use the system. The company operates around 2,750 supermarkets, general merchandise and electronics stores in Australia and New Zealand.

"Seven years ago, in all of our different [businesses], we had a different point of sale system," Beecham told a Hewlett-Packard seminar in Sydney.

"Today, we're very close to having one point of sale system, from a company called Retalix, across all of our [businesses]."

"You may say 'so what?'," he said, "but the power in that is that we will be able to move staff across [businesses] and very seamlessly they'll be able to understand how that business runs.

Standardisation of IT would continue to be a focus for Woolworths moving forward, according to Beecham.

"The other important thing about standardisation is, as a multi-divisional business, it allows us to roll things out more quickly."

As an example, Beecham cited Woolworths' mobile phone recharge product, e-pay, which took 16 months to rollout when introduced two years ago.

"Today we can do that sort of work in four months," he said. "A product like e-pay brings us AU$1 million a day in sales. It's very clear the difference between 16 months [and] four months."

Beecham described predecessor Bradley as having built "a wonderful foundation" for Woolworths IT, but said there was still plenty of work to do. This was particularly in regards to improving relations with suppliers and business partners.

"Eight years ago in Woolies, Woolies IT was very poorly regarded," he said.

"We didn't deliver. When we did deliver it wasn't on time [or] it wasn't to spec. We worked very, very hard over eight years to gain the confidence of our business partners.

"We've certainly got a long way to go still."