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Case Study:
Greene King adopt Category Management system for drinks



For retail businesses, category management can be a crucial element in a successful business strategy. Dubbed 'the new science of retailing' because of its reliance on data-driven, fact-based decision-making, the process of category management transforms the mass of data collected by retail scanning into usable information. When Greene King acquired the Laurel Pub Company's neighbourhood estate - some 432 pubs trading under several brand names - in August 2004, internal systems and processes were reviewed and rationalised as part of the integration process. One of the systems, 'Drinks Cat Man' (category management), had been designed by change++ to supply information to Laurel's procurement team on total volumes and costs of drinks products sold through Laurel outlets. A copy of the system was needed by Greene King to provide the drinks purchasing history for the Laurel neighbourhood houses, but analysts at Greene King also saw the potential for the system to report on drinks and food supplies sold throughout the enlarged Greene King estate.


Ian Melton, senior systems analyst at Greene King, briefed change++ to copy the system that reports on drinks purchases. Although this system will initially report only on Interbrew drinks volumes and costs for the previous Laurel neighbourhood houses, it is planned to be scaleable so that additional drinks or food suppliers can be added and reporting extended to the whole Greene King estate. Before development work started it was clear that a new server was required with additional disk space and SQL Server installed. A new category management database was then built to receive data from Interbrew relating to the neighbourhood estate. Although the Laurel reports had been previously generated using Business Objects software, change++ recommended that future reporting should be via Cognos Powerplay cubes. Greene King already had Cognos licences, their Head Office analysts were familiar with the functionality of Powerplay and little training was therefore necessary.


The new Cat Man system enables Greene King to:

  • Calculate the value of retrospective discounts due from suppliers
  • Analyse purchases of specific brands (or products) from any one supplier across various outlet types or regions
  • Monitor the volumes of product delivered to pubs verses the volumes sold
  • Monitor the range and quantities of products ordered by the outlets at different times of year

Cost information from the Cat Man system combined with EPOS selling price information will enable analysis of profit margins for individual brands or specific drinks at regional or even outlet level.

According to Greene King's Ian Melton, 'The updated Cat Man system gives us an excellent view of purchasing requirements and sales patterns. It allows us to identify trends, forecast demand and measure the success of promotional activity. We're very pleased with the way in which change++ have rationalised this system for us and look forward to enlarging it for more benefits in future.'

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