Considered the UK’s premier luxury fashion retailer, Harvey Nichols has been a beacon on the retail landscape since first opening its doors in Knightsbridge in 1831. Over the decades, the company has diversified its offerings, with new stores, hospitality functions, and international outposts.
Harvey Nichols has a strong brand but is operating in an increasingly tough retail environment. After many years of trading, the company wanted to grow its business.
Manju Malhotra, COO at Harvey Nichols, approached BIE to find a new interim Group IT Director, who could develop and oversee a business change strategy driven by technology.
Armed with the brief, BIE found the ideal person for the role: Richard Steward, a consummate professional CIO with profound IT and business leadership experience and a track record of adding value to businesses by driving digital change innovation, whilst strengthening and running business IT operations.
Initial analysis of the business, based on insights from the leadership team and across the business, as well as industry, confirmed that online was the growth opportunity. Richard made an immediate impact by formulating a three-year business change plan to enable online business growth, while reducing operational risk.
The support of the owner, the COO and the rest of the Management Board was crucial in proposing and agreeing this three-year plan, including a 50% YOY increase in investment to deliver the first year of the plan.
This investment allowed Richard and his team to drive through the business change agenda. Working closely throughout with Manju Malhotra as the COO and internal sponsor, a three-year plan was developed with change governed under five delivery programmes, each led by a Management Board Director.
The level of change in the first year of the plan was huge and impacted most areas of the business, with implementations scheduled around peak trading periods.
Strategic changes in the three-year plan to grow the business included: replatforming the website, new Order Management, Data Integration, POS, Delivery integration, CRM & Loyalty platforms. A five-year deal was signed with Salesforce for CRM and Data Integration platforms, which will enable further development of Harvey Nichols’ unique customer experience.
The tactical change focus was to reduce risk and remove short term operational constraints. Changes included a new POS for stores and hospitality businesses and various risk management improvements.
Richard also focused on upgrading the capabilities of the IT team, ensuring their delivery had a more commercial impact. This included better user support, more modern delivery methods, maturing processes and a real focus on exploiting commercial value from the company’s data. The foundational technology services were also upgraded, including reinforcing infrastructure and strengthening data security. The use cases for the adoption of new technologies like AI were also explored and understood
The transformation changes already delivered had an immediate impact, with successful winter 2019 trading and a 50% YOY growth in online sales enabled. As Richard says, “this level of business transformation was not possible without the active engagement and support from the ownership/board level down and this was a key reason why
Harvey Nichols was able to move so fast over the last 12 months to start the transformation of the business. In a short period of time, I’m proud to say we’ve made real change happen and the business is on a trajectory for even more growth in the future."
BIE has worked with Richard and Manju to recruit the group’s permanent IT Director. Richard is currently helping to onboard the role and handover, ensuring that Harvey Nichols digital transformation continues.
“The process of digital transformation that Harvey Nichols needed is helping to grow the online business and mitigate risk,” Richard commented. “By investing in this, they are securing their long-term future by enabling global business growth.”
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