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Finsbury Food Group specialises in manufacturing cakes, bread and bakery snack products for major UK retailers and food service companies. Its nine businesses across the UK include Lightbody, Memory Lane Cakes, Fletchers and Nicholas and Harris. Finsbury Food Group has a turnover of £320 million and employs 3,050 staff.
Prior to implementing Bottomline’s PTX cloud payments solution, Finsbury maintained an ERP, payroll and on-premise payment software platforms.
Is it best to have the same IT solution across all your businesses? Finsbury Food Group now thinks so. Its legacy payment systems are being replaced by a new cloud-based platform. This offers superior ease of use, better security and the right scalability for future growth.
MIS Analyst Gary McKelvie works at Lightbody of Hamilton in Scotland, a Finsbury Food Group company employing over 1,300 people. Founded in 1885, it’s the UK’s largest supplier of celebration cakes. Before recent changes, it had an ERP solution, payroll software and an on-premise payment platform.
One of its subsidiaries, Lightbody, had relied upon its Bottomline payment system for 15 years. A different remotely-hosted system was in use by Memory Lane Cakes in Cardiff. “We never had any problems with the Bottomline solution but the system at Memory Lane Cakes was proving quite expensive,” says McKelvie.
Lightbody has a weekly payroll of 1,300 people, a monthly payroll for 200 and weekly payments to around 50 suppliers. The payment system at Memory Lane Cakes was used to process payments for 850 staff and its suppliers but there were growing concerns about local support requirements and business continuity. A decision to find a new common payment solution was taken by Stuart Craig, Finsbury Food Group’s Head of IT.
It was decided to concentrate on three subsidiaries initially - Lightbody, Memory Lane Cakes and Fletchers. “I was tasked to find a solution which would be scalable but also secure to keep up with the changes in the payment landscape.” The subsidiaries also had different ERP systems so a new payment system would have to import payment files irrespective of their origin. However, McKelvie wanted this process to be as automated as possible.
“The key was to have as little manual input as possible by the end-users. We wanted the ability to lock down access to each payment type and we knew it was important to protect our payment data.”
McKelvie’s attention was quickly drawn to PTX, the cloud-based Payment and Business Solution Suite from Bottomline Technologies, which offered supplementary functionality to better secure business payment processes.
“We decided after reviewing PTX to strengthen our relationship with Bottomline as a long-standing supplier,” explains McKelvie.
This decision was based on a thorough investigation by finance staff which included reviewing the experience of other organisations currently using PTX and also by looking at the software first hand. McKelvie was sent a PTX on-boarding guide by Bottomline.
In return, banking details and the ERP payment file formats were sent to Bottomline to create login profiles. Using a PTX administrator’s account, McKelvie configured user security including the protected location of the data files exported by the ERP systems. Role-based user access in PTX restricts certain actions being taken by finance staff.
The PTX implementation at Lightbody in Hamilton meant it would now be able to make Bacs payments within PTX. As well as automating its payment, it now has increased security over its payment data, which is key to blocking fraudulent attempts. Bakeries at Cardiff (Memory Lane Cakes) and Salisbury (Nicholas & Harris) quickly followed in implementing PTX.
“The three sites were all switched over within a month. It went well,” says McKelvie.
"As a large business, my main aim is to be as secure as possible. This additional functionality has added another layer of security." Gary McKelvie | MIS Analyst | Finsbury Food Group
PTX has run faultlessly since it was implemented. As a scalable cloud-based subscription service, PTX allows Finsbury Food Group to select and pay for what they use – both in terms of payment volumes and transaction types. After encouraging more of its subsidiaries onto PTX, it has increased its transaction limit twice with the current allowance being 10,000 per month. Fletchers, a newly-acquired bakery, is soon to go live in Sheffield with PTX as its first automated payment system.
The security pack within PTX carefully monitors all the payment data. It can validate first-time payments, detect duplicate amounts or beneficiaries and even screen against a blacklist.
The payment files are created weekly by local finance teams from their respective ERP systems. Once these files are sitting in a protected folder, the functionality provided by the security pack automatically uploads them into PTX. A financial controller then approves and initiates a direct Bacs submission using a Smart Card. As the PTX administrator, McKelvie finds the new system easy to use. This will be useful as more Finsbury Food Group businesses adopt it.
“PTX has an intuitive interface and you can find your way about quite easily. Overall, I am delighted with the solution and the support levels from Bottomline. We have a more manageable and scalable solution in place,” says McKelvie.
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