Creating a cornerstone for a truly global business set for major growth.

The situation

World leading Merino clothing company, Icebreaker, has grown significantly since its establishment in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1995. Now a fast growing global operation with offices in eight countries, Icebreaker found itself limited by its ERP technology. Icebreaker wanted a technology platform that would remove silos, fragmentation and a “cookie cutter” approach to processes, allowing them embrace the future and take its retail operation to a whole new level.

Icebreaker chose Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, and Intergen as its implementation partner, to create a powerful “cornerstone” platform to underpin its entire global operation, drawing on core retail functionality and bringing everything together in a single global instance resulting in significant gains in productivity and competitive advantage, allowing Icebreaker to cement its place in the top echelon of retailers worldwide and realise its strong growth aspirations of becoming a company with a half billion dollar turnover.

Icebreaker had two key drivers in implementing a new ERP system: enterprise productivity and inventory effectiveness, helping Icebreaker to achieve its business objective of winning through inventory.

Now with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 we have the ability to see where we’ll be in three or six months’ time, based on today’s view.

Shane Woonton

The pain

With a highly customised, unstable and inflexible 10 year-old Dynamics NAV ERP platform in place, implemented when Icebreaker was a business turning over $2 million annually (now $180 million), technology had become a significant constraint to growth.

Processes were often manual, reporting was limited, and different instances of the system were in use in different subsidiaries around the world, resulting in business inconsistencies and a limited view of inventory, as well as difficulties managing it across numerous warehouses. Shane Woonton, Icebreaker’s Director – Winning Through Inventory explains that, “This meant we often suffered from inventory issues that crept up and surprised us at the last minute.”

With Dynamics AX 2012 chosen as the ERP technology platform, Icebreaker set in place a plan to “bring four regional entities into a single global inventory pool and create a truly global business model with “centres of excellence” in place,” says Icebreakers Chief Operating Officer, Dave Anderson.  

The gain

There have been, and will continue to be, “numerous tangible and intangible gains,” says Dave. These include:

Retail POS capabilities. As a 75% wholesale business, AX supports Icebreaker’s strong aspirations to grow its retail network and e-commerce platform, as well as integrating closely with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Inventory management. Shane explains: “We have been able to consolidate global demand and create a single global pool of inventory which means we are able to meet our demand profile more effectively across the different pathways of doing business.”

Dave elaborates on the benefits of inventory effectiveness: “Now we have absolute clarity globally about where our inventory is. This allows us to make better choices, to better manage our customer needs and to therefore deliver a better customer experience. Ultimately we will also be able to achieve revenue growth from a smaller investment in inventory.”

Consolidation of back office functions into regional hubs has meant the development of “centres of excellence”, which, as Dave explains, “brings a number of operational benefits such as best practice and consistency and greater coverage for time and language. Plus these centres of excellence will also bring about long term cost benefits.”

Ability to scale. AX provides a platform that will grow as Icebreaker does, both enabling and supporting aggressive growth plans.

An accurate view of the business. The ability to get a “single view of the truth” and derive real value from reporting, allowing for improved operations planning, better forecasting and allocation of inventory.  “Now we can accurately project our future inventory position based on today’s view of supply and demand,” Dave explains.

Productivity gains. Icebreaker anticipates that AX will help Icebreaker bring about 30% productivity improvements in its people by being able to manage overhead as a percentage of a sale, and reduce this overhead as Icebreaker continues to grow.

Reduction in manual transactions and processes, resulting in streamlining, time savings and the ability for staff to focus on more “value-add” activities. Shane describes one example of this: “Previously processing our raw materials requirements would have been a week’s work. Now it’s a simple process inside the system that runs in 30 minutes as part of batch processing in the weekend.”

After an intensive and highly collaborative project journey and a “fast and furious” implementation phase involving a global roll-out across four time zones in four days – with all four regions successfully back to business as usual on the Monday morning following the implementation – Icebreaker is currently bedding in the system and making incremental enhancements. Both Dave and Shane reflect on the magnitude of the project and its significance to Icebreaker, as well as the importance of the strong relationship formed between Icebreaker and Intergen. “This is an absolute cornerstone of our business, and we definitely made the right choice with AX,” Dave says. Shane adds, “Intergen was absolutely professional, collaborative and calm in times of pressure, and their strong governance and project management ensured a successful outcome for our business.”


The business case

With strong growth aspirations, Icebreaker was constrained by its 10-year old ERP system and looked to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 to help bring about inventory effectiveness, operational excellence and productivity gains, ultimately enabling Icebreaker to better understand and deliver to the needs of its customers.

The AX solution is used by 120 people across New Zealand, Australia, Europe and America, across all functions of the business: supply chain, finance, head office, customer service, sales, inventory management, demand planning and logistics. 

The business value

  • Dramatically improved inventory consolidation, management and forecasting
  • Strong retail point-of-sale and e-commerce capabilities and Dynamics CRM integration
  • Consolidation into regional hubs, bringing about best practice, consistency and greater coverage
  • Ability to scale and allow for growth
  • Powerful reporting and an accurate view of the business
  • Anticipated 30% productivity gains
  • Reduction in manual transactions and processes


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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (formerly AX)

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (formerly AX) is the leading cloud ERP solution built to make it easier to do business across locations and countries.



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