W. G. Buchanan & Son



W. G. Buchanan & Son have been supplying the highest quality natural food ingredients since 1871 under their own Buchanan brand.

The client.

W. G. Buchanan & Son have been supplying the highest quality natural food ingredients since 1871 under their own Buchanan brand. This invaluable heritage and wealth of experience enables them to source and select the best suppliers from around the world and to offer a top quality, value for money product range. Everything is supplied from their purpose-built factory in Carrickfergus, a location which provides them with excellent transport links to both the UK and Ireland. 

Over recent years W. G. Buchanan & Son has proactively targeted sales expansion throughout mainland UK, this has accelerated the company’s need to strengthen its management team across a number of key areas. W. G. Buchanan & Son has successfully utilised the INTRO programme on three occasions over the past eighteen months to bring new graduate talent into the business to fuel its business expansion and development activities.

The Challenge.

On target with achieving increased sales growth in the UK, the initial project looked at ways to improve customer lead time to ensure customers received their orders in a timely and efficient manner. Previously the company had relied on a manual order coding and dispatch system and a graduate sought to source and implement an automated Warehouse Management System (WMS) that was not only suitable for the company’s products and process flow but also one that tied in neatly with their Sage accounting system.   

Solution and approach.

Parity Professionals sourced a graduate to conduct a number of trials of the various software options available and was tasked to select one and present a detailed implementation and cost report to the board for approval. They then went on to successfully integrate the new system into the company’s accounting software and train staff in its use. This initially saw a reduction in lead time of approx. 20% from order to delivery allowing the existing batch control to be fully automated to the extent that batch information on any customer and any product is instantly available to any user. This has significantly reduced the paperwork involved in delivering orders and maintaining quality records for the company’s SALSA accreditation.

Following the successful implementation of the WMS, the company then looked to bolster its administration side and again turned to Parity Professionals to source a graduate to join its Sales Administration department. The graduate was recruited to “fine tune” their Sage 200 accounts package. The graduate was responsible for streamlining the sales order process and setting up transaction processing. This, along with the WMS has meant that customers now receive invoices by automated email on the day they receive their orders, this has led to a significant improvement in not only overall sales administration and efficiency, but has also had a positive impact on the company’s cash flow.

The next stage of the company’s growth plans included recruiting a Sales and Marketing graduate to enhance the current sales department and to specifically target both sustained growth and potential new markets. Currently half way through the INTRO programme, progress has already been achieved by gaining new customers, in particular by expanding Buchanan’s market share on the mainland. This steady growth has now led the company to look for another graduate to strengthen its Production and Manufacturing Operations, with a view to conducting studies to find areas where current product and process efficiencies could be achieved.

Final outcomes.

Although the project is ongoing, each graduate sub-project has already delivered significant improvements to the company. It has allowed W. G. Buchanan & Son to streamline its processes and to offer customers a greater level of service, this has led to increased customer loyalty and a sharp increase in sales. The WMS has also led to improved buying and logistics decisions, which has proved to be a key improvement for the company, providing accurate information enabling them to make key purchasing decisions before markets move against them. As a result of INTRO Programme graduates, W. G. Buchanan & Son figures suggest they are on target for double-digit sales growth across the key areas they set out in their initial target.

Why Parity.

W. G. Buchanan & Son had previously participated in an earlier programme and knew Parity Professionals could source high calibre graduates. Graduates were provided under the INTRO programme, which provided an extremely cost effective solution for businesses, providing access to a pool of talented graduates that are tailored to the needs of the business whilst providing ongoing development through workshops and mentoring.

INTRO was a 24-week programme, designed and delivered in Northern Ireland. SME's were offered the opportunity to work with ambitious graduates focused on delivering business results.This Programme is now closed. Please take a look at our Learning and Development Solutions for more information on these services

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