Swiss-headquartered Nestlé is the company behind such popular confectionary brands as KitKat, Smarties, Aero, the Nescafé coffee line and a range of other food lines for both people and pets. The company attracted unwelcome publicity when despite record 2005 profits of £3.5 billion, a 21 per cent increase year on year accompanied by a six per cent hike in sales, it announced some 250 job losses across its UK operations.

That bad news hardly blights this impressive retail machine’s performance, assisted in large part by its IT investment. It is a significant early adopter of RFID and has just made a significant upgrade to its retail management application at its York UK manufacturing hub.

In 2002 the company signed a five-year, £280 million deal to standardise its IT infrastructure on IBM hardware and software. The move has consolidated over 100 IT operations into just five datacentres in the US, Australia and Europe using an architecture based on DB2 and the Tivoli systems management software, though MySAP is also a major Nestlé platform.

The move is part of the food giant’s ambitious business and IT re-engineering initiative called Globe, which is set to conclude this year. It is not clear yet if it achieved the £1.2bn savings target it was set up to oversee. But the company has a good track record in such recoups on spend: in 2001 it claimed to have clawed back early all its investment in a previous five-year implementation of SAP’s ERP system.