Premier Foods IT project delivers massive savings

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

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Premier Foods IT project delivers massive savings
UK grocery giant Premier Foods has halved IT operational costs in a project launched in conjunction with Google Enterprise that will enable it to coordinate cross-functional business projects more efficiently.

The move involves the installation of its web-based collaboration and communication suite Google Apps for Business to the company as part of a broader strategy to simplify operations, cut costs and restore profitable growth.

Staff at Premier Foods’ 40 different sites will now be able to use a wide range of applications, from Google Talk to Google Drive to enhance communication between different departments.

The initiative puts Premier Foods squarely in the current trend of companies moving from on-premise IT systems to so-called ‘cloud’-based approaches, enabling easy remote access and exchange of information.

Moving operations into the cloud

 “It’s part of our roadmap in terms of moving operations into the cloud,”​ Mark Vickery, group information systems and change director for Premier Foods told FoodNavigator.

Vickery said the company expected return on investment for the project to be achieved “within the first year”.  ​The model had proved superior to other systems in terms of savings and payback time, he said. “There was not a huge amount of capital outlay required.”

Premier Foods is in the process of rolling out the IT overhaul across all its sites and expected it to be fully installed and functional by the fourth quarter of the financial year.

Work collaboratively in real time

“Teams might be working together and this enables them to work collaboratively in real time,”​ said Vickery. “It enables mobile working. They will be able to access real time information and share knowledge and learning.”

The system would put colleagues in touch with specialists across the business that could support them on project work, he said.

In the case of conference calls, staff previously had very little face-to-face interaction, whereas the new system would increase this, plus share documents and action decisions while in remote conference, said Vickery.

Premier Foods reported a £259.1m (€312.6m) pre-tax loss in its full year results earlier this month and currently claims more than £1bn (€1.25bn) in debt. Some analysts have suggested that a sell-off of its own-label bread division is on the cards. As a result, the company will welcome any opportunity for cost savings.

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