Dixons Carphone’s core retail business is the largest multi-channel specialist electrical and telecommunications retailer in Europe. The company was formed in 2014 by the merger of Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse Group, creating an electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company based in London, whose numerous brands are instantly recognized throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. The company employees over 42,000 individuals and had a revenue of £10.53bn in FY2017/18.
In 2014, after Dixons and Carphone merged, the new company found itself with numerous redundant systems and services. Blair Robinson, Dixons Carphone’s Director of Central Business Services explains that “for every single function and every single part of the business there were two processes, two systems.”
The newly unified company needed to find efficiencies, build controls, and have visibility around these functions.
It was readily apparent that Dixons Carphone needed to plot a roadmap from its current situation to a place where systems were efficient, cost-effective, and served the business with a single ERP.
Robinson explains “the journey was about what on earth do we want the back office to be, and what do we want it to look like? What are the various steps along the way? And because we were coming from the point of a merger, we needed to get value out quickly while knowing there was a longer roadmap to come.”
Blair explains, “the journey was about what on earth do we want the back office to be, and what do we want it to look like? What are the various steps along the way? And because we were coming from the point of a merger, we needed to get value out quickly while knowing there was a longer roadmap to come.”
Dixons Carphone knew that in addition to focusing on its immediate needs, it needed to plan three or four years ahead, in order to roll out shared services, and ultimately build a single ERP for the organization.
The company began its process by investing in a benchmark program. It sought to set goals on their journey from the multiple legacy systems brought in by the merger to the desired end state with one way of doing things with one set of operating models, one set of processes, and one technology stack.
“We needed to make things clearer, simpler, faster,” Robinson says. The benchmarking project assisted the company in envisioning what the new company would look like and how it might get there. It helped Dixons Carphone to size its goals and identify priorities for change. Blair says that starting the process with a benchmark helped the company get “clarity on where we needed to go and it helped us prioritize and start to plan, because we were able to see what a good organization in this area looks like.”
The benchmarking initiative also helped Dixons Carphone’s senior executives realize that finance functions would be instrumental in ensuring that the company could make the best offerings to its customers and create the ideal technology landscape. For that reason, the project was branded “One Finance for Business” and presented as a finance transformation enabled by technology.
In order to achieve the company’s goals around supply chain, technology, point-of-sale transactions, website improvements, and customer interactions, it was imperative that Dixons Carphone simplify its back-end systems. Resolving massive inefficiencies in finance processes would ultimately offer the cost savings that would enable many of the other necessary improvements, ultimately including a company-wide ERP.
Once it had established the roadmap, Dixons Carphone worked its way through the journey in achievable chunks. The company built the business case for leadership one piece at a time and took each bit in turn to get funding.
The team’s ability to demonstrate early benefits made it easier to get approval for the next piece of the plan. However, everyone understood that in the end, progress would only be sustainable with a long-term plan for an ERP system.
First the company standardized business processes, then moved on to simplifying them, and then to changing the operating model. Each of these actions in turn freed up cash to help move forward with the next step. Dixons Carphone realized savings through reducing duplication, streamlining processes, and ultimately implementing robotic process automation for certain finance functions.
Today, as Dixons Carphone enters the next stage of its transformative journey, it is happy to review how far it’s come. The company has realized millions of dollars in savings through its transformation and implemented its desired ERP system.
Robinson attributes success to a combination of factors that are all about effective change management. These include the initial benchmarking project, the step-by-step approach to its desired endpoint, and taking a “show don’t tell” approach to moving the project forward.
As he explains, “at every stage of the project right from the inception of design, we let people see what the solution was going to look like. And we evolved in front of their eyes. So there was no paper-based design. There were process maps developed at the backend, but really from day one we had a working model of the ERP. And every single workshop that we ran with the business, we showed them the relevant part of the ERP for the process that we were talking about.”
The organization has won awards for the project due to this approach to business adoption and change management. Dixons Carphone was also able to implement its new ERP in 18 months from start to finish. It completed the project on time and under budget, and was able to complete reporting on time in the first month.
Looking forward, the focus from the Finance perspective is around further embedding the company’s gains and optimizing further around robotics. Dixons Carphone’s achievements over the past four years positions them well for success in this next phase.
This profile is part of PwC’s 2019 Finance Effectiveness Benchmarking reporting. PwC would like to thank Blair Robinson, Dixons Carphone’s Director of Central Business Services for his insights.
Consumer and Industrial Products & Services Finance Leader, PwC US
Principal, Finance Transformation Leader, PwC US
Director of Finance Effectiveness, PwC US
Brian J Furness
Global Consulting Finance Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom
Finance Benchmarking Lead, PwC United Kingdom