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August 2002
Sutherland Brothers Hi-Tech Advances

HI-TECH WHOLESALER LEADS THE WAY                                Sutherland Brothers Business Page
A Wick-based grocery wholesale business has installed new hi-tech software and the transformation at Sutherland Brothers Ltd is so significant the marketing director has been asked to tell his contemporaries all about it.

Colin Sangster has just returned from the Landmark conference in Berlin, Germany where he was asked to inform delegates about changes in working practices at Sutherland Brothers Ltd and how the future of the company is being shaped around e-commerce.  The annual Landmark conference is a gathering for members of the National Buying Group, which is made up of independent cash and carry and wholesalers throughout the UK.

Sutherland Brothers Ltd has made a major change over to using the internet and telesales ordering integrated with existing fax and email facilities, providing customer relationship management facilities to the telesales operators.  A document and management system has also been implemented putting Sutherland Brothers Ltd ahead of the game in terms of e-business solutions.


The company, which has premises on the Airport Industrial Estate and employs 35 staff, received advice and financial assistance from Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) to carry out the changes. CASE awarded Sutherland Brothers Ltd a grant worth 9,750 to help meet the 39,500 costs.  Sutherland Brothers Ltd also received grant assistance worth 4,000 from CASE to help them become a pilot in The Highland Council E-Procurement rollout.  E-Procurement is the complete interaction between supplier and customer using fully automated and integrated computerised facilities.  Sutherland Brothers Ltd were chosen by The Highland Council as one of only three suppliers to trial the early stages of the E-Procurement rollout which will allow schools, hospitals and other local authority operations to order supplies on-line.

Marketing director with Sutherland Brothers, Colin Sangster said: "Sutherland Brothers deliver to a quarter of Scotland but to only four per cent of the population.  Our reps have to spend a lot of time travelling to meet buyers which is very labour intensive and costly.  By implementing e-business solutions we can be more productive and efficient in terms of collecting orders allowing our sales force to spend more time on customer development.

"The benefits are already beginning to show in terms of order deadlines and the extra business that the salesmen have been able to secure."   CASE's e-business advisor John Stodgell said: "Generating more e-business is a priority for CASE.  We see this as a very important tool for helping businesses to grow, especially in more rural areas.

"Management and staff at Sutherland Brothers Ltd have embraced the new technology and are proving to be an excellent example to other organisations. We encourage others to follow their lead and we are here to offer advice and support to businesses in Caithness and Sutherland who are developing e-business solutions."