Geary’s Bakeries gears up sales with CyBake

Leicester-based Geary’s Bakeries was established in 1906 and is Britain’s champion craft baker, having won more national titles (over 4,000) than any other in the UK. From its local origins making cakes, pastries, bread and rolls, Geary’s has expanded to supply supermarket giants such as Aldi and The Co-operative Group as well as sandwich manufacturers that serve stores like Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

When company accountant Graham Garratt joined Geary’s three years ago, the company was using a legacy software application originally developed for the frozen food market which ran on a proprietary IBM Unix server.

“When I came, nobody knew how to get the full benefits from the system so it was only operating the bits that people did know,” he says. “To get information out of it you had to interrogate it with obtuse programs such as Samba to drill down and get data to put into spreadsheets. My life was spreadsheets, pulling it out of the application so I could get some meaningful information.”

While the application had many features, it was heavily bespoke, it had become unwieldy and Garratt experienced significant problems with its nominal and purchase ledger functions.

“The people who had been using it for years had been using it almost automatically,” he says. “They had learned to input a sales invoice or how you put an order on but weren’t familiar with the application’s underlying processes and it was expensive to maintain as well. We had expert support for these issues but it came at a cost.”

“It’s easier to teach,” he comments. “And if people could use a Windows-based program then you could give them another Windows-based program and it wouldn’t be such a massive culture shock.”

Like many executives in his position, Garratt has a pretty thorough grounding in Microsoft-based IT. As company accountant, he is also responsible for Geary’s business computing needs. In order to modernise, a Windows-based system seemed the obvious way to move forward.

“It’s easier to teach,” he comments. “And if people could use a Windows-based program then you could give them another Windows-based program and it wouldn’t be such a massive culture shock.”

Geary’s Bakeries looked at a number of applications including SAP Business One before talking to RedBlack Software’s managing director Jane Tyler about CyBake, the specialist business management software for bakeries.

“She had the knowledge and I could talk to her,” says Garratt. “She understood what I was saying rather than some of the people I spoke to – programmers and that ilk. She seemed to have a business acumen that I could relate to and a knowledge of what she was providing and came across well.”

Although CyBake’s designers at RedBlack pride themselves on the level of customisation they can provide, Garratt says: “I didn’t want something that was heavily customised; I have been through that difficult experience in previous roles. Ideally, I was looking for something off-the-shelf but when I started looking on the shelf I couldn’t really get it without putting the customisation in, to a certain extent. But then I think with RedBlack it came across well. Other bakers were using CyBake that were similar sorts of firms so I thought: ‘Well, I’m not going to be a one-off, I’m going to be one of many’. I thought the pricing was attractive as well.”

“Well, I’m not going to be a one-off, I’m going to be one of many.”

CyBake now processes the production work generated by Geary’s telesales team who along with the accounts department are its main users.

“CyBake collates all the orders going in, produces the invoices, produces delivery notes, and it passes the information to me in a format that I can input into our Sage accounting package,” explains Garratt. Geary’s plans to increase the use of CyBake’s bakery production features and job estimation functions over time.

Another source of pride to the RedBlack team is their ability to install CyBake with the minimum of disruption to their customers.

Garratt comments: “What has probably been fairly remarkable is that we have managed to continue inputting telesales orders and putting them into production with the relevant paperwork, delivery notes and invoices. We didn’t have too much of a ‘dual run’ because I haven’t got the time or the resources, so the process was unbelievably smooth.”

Geary’s Bakeries: http://www.gearysbakeries.co.uk