Strahan Wilson, CFO, EAT

EAT, a rapidly growing London-based sandwich shop, needed to streamline its financial processes and systems so that its business could scale. With the potential opportunity to open 100+ storefronts, EAT needed a planning tool that was flexible, agile, and not dependent on an IT infrastructure.

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My name is Strahan Wilson, CFO of EAT.

EAT is primarily a London-based sandwich shop. We have probably 112 stores in total, 90 of which are in Zone 1.* So we’re primarily a London-based business.

The main objective we have at the moment is to double the size of our business. So we’ve just secured funding to open another 100 stores in the next three years.

So the challenge for us is that we want to grow without actually adding to our headcount. To do that, we need to make sure that the processes and systems that we have in the business today are scalable to ensure that they can cope with our growth.

Our setup pre-Anaplan was a classic spreadsheet nightmare. I think we had a total of 27 spreadsheets—all of which were barely interlinked and were used across the three planning horizons that we had: a store planning process, which was quarterly for the stores; we had a company-level process, which was annually for the business as a whole; and we had a three-year planning cycle, which was for the strategic planning process. All three required their own suite of spreadsheets, all three were completely unrelated, and all three required Herculean effort to set up and maintain. It was a nightmare.

We didn’t know what kind of business we would have in three years’ time; we didn’t know what adding a hundred stores to the business would do to us. So we wanted a solution that could evolve, both in terms of the scale, but also in terms of the direction that we wanted to take. Where Anaplan stood uniquely in the market in our minds was its usability from a non-IT perspective.

The beauty of Anaplan is, effectively, it’s as instantaneous as Excel® is. So you put your formula in, you get it wrong, seconds later you’ve realised the error of your ways, and you can fix it.

It’s been a blessing to the finance function, implementing Anaplan. We never really dug deep into how much labour we should have deployed in our stores at what time and, because of the fact that Anaplan handles data so seamlessly and so easily, we were able to build it up from its KPIs and actually identify from a product basis how much labour do we need, rather than simply looking at fixed percentage and saying a store should operate on this percentage. So you should find an EAT nearby where you have faster queue time, better service, all because Anaplan knows how much labour should be there.

I think Anaplan has liberated the finance function to act as a strategic partner. So historically, 30 per cent plus of our time was spent on planning, and if you’re spending that amount of time just trying to churn the numbers, you simply don’t have enough time to do anything above and beyond that.

We’re seeing through our results in our stores, higher sales, better productivity, better flow-through of profit, and so, if you start attributing even a small percentage of that against the cost of Anaplan, then the ROI is very good indeed.

My name is Strahan Wilson, and my finance function is powered by Anaplan.

*According to the London Underground map, Zone 1 primarily covers travel inside the city of London.

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