Thistle Company of Australia
Triquestra fuels Thistle’s multi-site retail business transformation
“By using Infinity, we’re on track to completely transform our business from fuel stations with shops on the back, to become a chain of small supermarket outlets with fuel at the front, while delivering the optimum customer experience.” Tim O’Donovan, General Manager
Thistle Company of Australia (TCOA or Thistle) is a privately held company that owns and operates Australia’s largest independent network of Shell-branded service stations and adjoined retail premises.
Headquartered in Brisbane, and operating across Queensland and New South Wales, Thistle has outlets ranging from a 40 minute drive from its Brisbane headquarters to a 12 hour drive away.
During 2009, Thistle identified strong opportunity for more retail outlets in regional locations, and undertook a strategy to shift the focus of the business to a small supermarket chain with fuel available, instead of its existence as a fuel chain with convenience goods available on the side.
The Thistle management team identified that this retail transformation strategy meant closing a number of smaller, less profitable service stations in order to set up larger (300m2) retail-focused premises.
To enable this transformation, Thistle reviewed its core business processes, primarily financial performance (cash flow/profit and loss), management reporting, retail promotions and inventory and fuel management. All of these required mobile and remote access functionality.
A critical challenge was to manage and drilldown into sales, stock and fuel management systems on the fly at remote premises, via the management team’s fleet of laptops and on iPhones.
The Infinity solution
Thistle went to tender for a retail management solution that saw the company replace its MYOB accounting and OnQ point of sale software in favour of Infinity POS and SAP BusinessOne.
Functionality, ease-of-use and return on investment were key factors in Thistle’s choice of Infinity. It also strongly favoured Infinity’s reputation as a robust and centralised solution.
Thistle uses Infinity as a real-time information management system operating between head office and its stores into which all stock and fuel inventory is centralised and integrated to SAP Business One.
“By using Infinity, we’re on track to completely transform our business from fuel stations with shops on the back, to become a chain of small supermarket outlets with fuel at the front, while delivering the optimum customer experience,” said Tim O’Donovan, General Manager, TCOA.
One of Thistle’s largest costs is in fuel management, as it purchases hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel per week. Now, Thistle’s CFO can access Infinity on her laptop or iPhone and check how much fuel is being held and accordingly manage cash flow, predict profit and hold a fuel order depending on location requirements.
Previously, Thistle required daily staff procedures to identify any variances, for example, a broken pump, or fuel theft. This lack of visibility might delay a new order or redistribution by 48 hours, affecting sales and profitability. Now, the management team has instant access to review and identify unusual behaviour and inventory patterns.
Tim says, “With Infinity as our centralised trending and analysis tool, we can identify critical operational and transactional issues, and operate more productively. For example, we can see how weather or local preferences are affecting sales, and then re-distribute inventory among stores accordingly to maintain a smooth sales supply and a great in-store customer experience.”
“Up-to-the minute sales information at any regional store is visible immediately at head office or on the Area Manager’s laptop or iPhone if required – that’s pretty revolutionary. Infinity’s centralised delivery of critical data puts valuable, credible information right at the fingertips of our senior management team to help them make meaningful and relevant decision instantly. This information is critical for any product-based business, but especially for Thistle given we are significantly transforming our business, and expanding in regional locations,” Tim concludes.