West Lothian butchers, Hugh Black and Sons have speeded up their productivity and cash flow after installing new Electronic Point-of-Sale (EPOS) equipment to replace the old scales and cash registers in each of their six shops.
The 23 new EPOS systems in operation (five shops have four systems each, one shop has three systems) consists of an FT150 POS terminal, an MT150 receipt printer, space poles, a 2" label printer (Advantage LX), barcode scanner Zebex Z6010, cash drawers, scales and serve over displays.
Hugh Black and Sons is a family business established in 1987 by the late Hugh Black and now run by his two sons, Craig and Hugh. The business has grown significantly over the last twenty-four years with shops in Armadale, Bathgate, Lanark, Cambuslang, Airdrie and Carluke, employing in total over 70 local people. This expansion has been due in part to the investment in a 4,000 square foot purpose built preparation and distribution premises, situated in the heart of Bathgate, west of Edinburgh. Here they produce their own products such as ready meals, cooked meats, puddings, sausages and their locally-renowned steak pies.
With a dedicated staff and purpose-built production areas, the company has achieved the highest level of EEC approval granted by Food Standards Agency and Meat Hygiene Services.
Most independent High Street butchers face strong competition from supermarkets which benefit from selling all the most popular types of meat, but pre-labelled for easy identification by the customer. The packaging may also have easy-to-follow cooking instructions and recipe suggestions which busy and less experienced cooks appreciate. Supermarkets also woo customers by offering "lifestyle" products, such as a selection of pre-marinated cuts of meat for barbecues and other outdoor events during the summer.
However, butchers such as Hugh Black and Sons often benefit from selling locally reared meat from local farms, winning various accolades for fresh meat products in numerous competitions and establishing lasting relationships with generations of customers.
By selecting through the auction system at Lanark and Stirling livestock markets, Hugh Black is able to source only the finest animals from a collection of Scottish farms. Annually they purchase around 650 cattle, 1300 lambs and 750 pigs and recent awards include Traditional Steak Pie Gold Award 2009 and 2007.
The complete solution encompassing Head Office, Warehouse, Meat/Bakery Processing and EPoS software, was supplied by software specialists' Retail Computer Solutions Ltd (RCS).
Maxa Technologies supplied the hardware which had to be specially adapted with a pole mounting system to allow the POS system to fit neatly in a limited space. RCS replaced the firm's more traditional cash registers and scales for meat preparation and sales.
The FT150 POS terminal is a low power consumption, compact and fan-less system designed for applications in quiet environments. The Maxatec MT-150 receipt printer is an ultra-reliable direct thermal printer with fast printing at 150mm per second.
The Z-6010 Barcode Scanner is designed for both omni-directional and single line scanning and is highly suitable for busy retail environments.
RCS supplied the butchery software which controls the purchasing, tracking and processing of meat products which is fully integrated into the RCS Merchandise Management system Streetwise. Designed to manage both single and multiple sites, the butchery system manages Head Office, Warehouse(s), Processing Plant(s) and EPoS to provide central control over each stage of purchasing, meat processing, storage, distribution and selling.
The system is fully scaleable and further modules and functionality can be added as required. The systems also have custom-made power enclosures with bases that house power supplies underneath and then space poles above to hold the terminal, printer etc.
Craig Black, director, Hugh Black & Sons comments: "The new system has been running for six months now and we are pleased with the results. We chose this particular solution against other competitors because we felt we would get a system designed specific for our needs and would allow us to expand and have more control throughout all stages of the processing to retail sales.
"The main challenges we faced were that the design of the counters which limited our ability to install equipment, especially concerning the location and protection of the power supplies.
"We also needed to store and mount essential accessories such as power supplies in different ways and so we needed a customised design of an extension box to give us access to food under the counter".
"Managing Director of Maxatec's reseller, Retail Computer Systems (RCS), David Boland says: "We are very happy to have a strong Supply Partner such as Maxatec especially when having to custom design systems such as this. The whole process from original brief, through to design and installation took around 15 months because we needed to make major modifications to RCS software as we went along in order to fine-tune the spec. We also had to make sure that it met all the latest Weights and Measures standards".
Andrea Percival, managing director of Maxa Technologies says: "We are delighted that Hugh Black and Sons has benefitted from our hardware and has become yet another satisfied customer to add to our existing customers in this sector. Butchers can start with PC Scales linked to a POS Register and then build on the system to meet their requirements. We have worked closely with RCS for some years now, and value our partnership with them."