How does a kitchen manufacturer stand the heat of competition?

Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management is the secret ingredient.


Based in Coventry, Burbidge is a fifth generation manufacturing business employing around 75 people. Over the years, Burbidge has made everything from cricket stumps to automotive parts but today the company specialises in manufacturing and distributing premium quality kitchens to the independent retail sector across the UK.

The challenge                                                                                                                       Sage software has been a part of the organisation’s success for many years. And as Financial Director Graham Heaven explains, that’s about strong business relationships as much as industry-leading technology:
“We’ve had what is now known as Enterprise Management since the early
1990s,” says Graham,“ and we’ve seen it evolve and pass through various
hands until it has become a flagship solution. The quality of people at Sage
very much mirrors what we look for amongst our own people so we’ve built
very strong working relationships–particularly on the technical side.”
The strength of those relationships has meant that Burbidge deal directly
with Sage rather than through partners:

“It feels like quite a privilege to be working with the people at Sage. We find
they respond very quickly to any questions we raise. Particularly when we
are going through any periods of change with new products. On projects
like these, small hitches can hold things up very quickly–so getting that
prompt technical response is very important.“

The solution
As Graham explains, this long-standing relationship means that Burbidge’s
Enterprise Management deployment has become rich and diverse,
supporting many parts of the business:

“We use many modules within the Enterprise Management platform. We’re
a manufacturing business–so clearly the manufacturing modules, stock
control, and costing are key. But we’re also a distribution business. We
have a warehouse and we distribute to our customers. So, we have a fairly
complex challenge, having to manufacture and despatch to order, and
also supply and distribute both from stock and made-to-order products.”
Coordinating both sides of the business is critical because the product
that Burbidge supplies is a unique manufacturing proposition. A kitchen
comprises many component parts–and in the case of a Burbidge kitchen,
that may often mean many premium bespoke component parts:
“We’re effectively supplying a kit of parts and we sell those parts literally
kitchen by kitchen to our retail base. In terms of ensuring the availability
and coordinating the dispatch of all those parts, it is a complex business
and the Sage solution we have is well suited to ensuring that we’re able
to achieve a very efficient operation. I think that’s one of the great
qualities of the software. It can be moulded to fit your business rather
than your business having to be moulded to fit it.”

Because Enterprise Management is designed as a coherent platform,
these modules integrate in a way that allows the business to run smoothly
and efficiently:
“We use the sales order processing module extensively for the distribution
side of the business and that ties in seamlessly with the manufacturing
module. We see them as different options on the one menu, so the
experience is that you’re using one solution rather than a series of separate
modules. That’s what you need when you’re running a sophisticated
business with quite a lot of transactions going through. You need that
automatic, seamless integration to work smoothly–and it really does with
Enterprise Management.”

The bottom line
These technical characteristics translate directly into business benefits
for Burbidge by supporting innovation and speed of response:
“The major advantage we get from Enterprise Management is the fact that
we can develop our business with new ideas and we can get the software
to adapt to those ideas. We can operate our core operation in the way we
choose and try different things as well that may need to be operated in a
slightly different way.”

Graham goes on to explain how this has become a key competitive edge
and helped shape the direction of the company:

“It’s a real strength of the solution–and I can give you a good example of
how that has made a difference. Our business came originally from a
stocked solution. We then expanded on that to include colour choices so
we could create bespoke designs, matching any colour that the customer
requires. Obviously, operating in a manufacturing environment where
you are spraying specifically to many differing customer requirements–
particularly on a small number of units–is quite complex when you are
set up to manufacture in bulk and supply a stock situation. But Enterprise
Management has proved adaptable enough to meet that challenge whilst
still allowing us to manufacture stock items too. We’ve been able to do
what we want as a business and the software has fully supported us.”

The future
With such an established track record as well as continuing innovation,
the collaboration between Sage and Burbidge looks set for a strong future.
That’s partly about the software–but also about the people.
As Graham Heaven concludes: “One thing that’s really key for me is people.
As I mentioned before, I’ve always found the people at Sage extremely
helpful, extremely friendly and extremely willing to make it work for us.
I think that resonates with people here. In fact, I can’t emphasise enough
how important that is. Having a team there that want to work with you
and help you get the most out of the software is fantastic.”