Brothers Henry and Richard Christy patented a machine to produce terry towelling on a large scale after they first came across loop file fabric during a visit to the Palace of the Sultan in Constantinople in 1850. The first Christy towels were shown in the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace, where a set was presented to Queen Victoria.
It is reported she liked them so much she immediately ordered more. Moving on a century and a half, Christy is now recognised as a UK towel brand leader, continuing to innovate by being the first to introduce other natural fibres such as silk, micro modal and blended fibres. In January 2007, the company also became the first towel company in the UK to introduce a Fairtrade collection into its range.
With a SKU count over 5000 and a turnover of around £35.5 million, the current forecasting process had become cumbersome, inflexible and potentially damaging.
It was created manually, based on spreadsheets and reviewed and updated only once or at best twice a year, exposing the company to the risk of being unable to react dynamically to changes in the market. Even at the aggregate product range level, the process was slow, largely inaccurate and relied heavily on guesswork.
Further manual work was then required to split down the range level forecast to generate a product mix based on historic sales. The end result was a conservative plan that relied heavily on flexibility at a local manufacturing plant level to respond to short-term demand changes.
The Reflex solution was easy to use and created highly accurate forecasts at all levels of the business. This included accounting for the distinctive seasonal patterns resulting from special events such as Wimbledon, where in 2015 Christy celebrated its 28th anniversary as the official towel licensee to the Championships.
The implementation process was smooth and timely with results fed into the procurement system. This delivered a robust and flexible forecasting process able to meet future business challenges. The system continues to evolve and improve, with accuracy across all ranges reaching 85%, notable when measured against a backdrop of a turnover doubling to £64 million.
“The requirement was for a tool that was certainly sophisticated, yet easy to use. Reflex delivered a comprehensive set of features, combined with a modern design, all at a sensible price” – Janet Hassall, Planning Manager.
“The first product of its kind that actually does what it says on the tin” – Graham Naismith, Commercial Director.