“Keytree has the ‘whatever it takes’ mentality – I don’t think I could have expected any more from them”

Kirk Davis – Finance Director at JD Wetherspoon

Pubs in the UK
UK employees
Year company founded

Business needs

JD Wetherspoon owns and operates more than 900 pubs throughout the UK. With around 33,000 employees and an annual turnover of over £1.5 billion, it’s come a long, successful way since its founding in 1979 by Tim Martin.

“It was a first class team from Keytree. They did whatever it took to get the job done”

Kirk Davis – Finance Director at JD Wetherspoon

JD Wetherspoon has always been a fast-growing, entrepreneurial company, and as a result has always had a pragmatic approach to its IT systems, adding new applications as and when they were needed. About two years ago, a plan was set in motion to bring its total estate of pubs up to 1,000.

JD Wetherspoon decided that as a part of that plan it would conduct a full IT review to ensure its systems could actually handle that objective. “We found our accounting system would struggle to deliver what the business needed,” says Kirk Davis, the company’s Finance Director, “We needed something much more robust”


Choosing the right partners

“Keytree were a very good cultural fit,” says Mr Davis, “they had the right level of experience to deliver the implementation well and were very good at understanding what our business objectives were.”

With the right core systems, and the ability to add modules over time, JD Wetherspoon decided SAP was the right software choice for its new systems, but it still needed to find the right implementation partner. However, switching systems was never going to be quick or simple.

In fact, JD Wetherspoon faced a wrenching change at the core of its business affecting 23 different systems, 52 business interfaces and around 250 head office staff. The system sat at the heart of the companies finance and supply chain functions. Any problems with the implementation or downtime could have had very serious consequences, even threatening supplies from the company’s national distribution centre to its 800-plus pubs.


Taking the leap with Keytree

“It was no picnic,” explains Mr Davis, “but Keytree never shied on their commitment and effort.”

The new SAP system included the whole head office finance and commercial function, business planning and consolidation, supplier relationship management and procurement. It also provides the foundation for future modules, including the potential to deploy some functionality into the pubs themselves. During the 12-month implementation process, around 25 Keytree consultants and engineers embedded themselves with JD Wetherspoon’s own finance and IT specialists.

“I never felt they were an outside company working for me,” says Mr Davis, “it was clear they wanted to deliver what was best for JD Wetherspoon from the beginning.” Keytree made sure the business understood thoroughly what they needed to know. Keytree supported the project with training and change management to make sure that the company’s staff were ready to get the most out of the new system. This included the SAP Café concept, where employees and specialists could share knowledge about the new systems in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Results and benefits

The successful and, considering its scale, rapid implementation of several SAP systems at the heart of JD Wetherspoon has made a huge difference to the accuracy and efficiency of its business processes.

Better financial visibility & control

Whilst previously staff would have to pull data onto Excel spreadsheets and match them with files of invoices, there is now a single data-entering process. This allows for real-time reporting and three-way invoice matching, meaning Head Office can keep tighter control of its cash flow.

Accurate reporting

“When I used to ask for a forecast on depreciation, for example, it used to be based on gut feeling, instinct and various spreadsheets,” says Mr Davis, “now SAP delivers this for me accurately and in real-time.”

Increased efficiency

The new system has replaced 23 legacy systems, which in itself brings great efficiencies. People used to have to work weekends pulling together data, using workarounds to get the information they needed. Now things just work.

“It was a first class team from Keytree. They did whatever it took to get the job done. In addition, they delivered the project without interrupting the business at all. As a result, JD Wetherspoon now has a great core business system and the foundation in place to expand its reach across the business over the next five years, and beyond.”

Kirk Davis – Finance Director at JD Wetherspoon