JD Sports, a leading specialty retailer of sports fashion and casual wear, has bought new software to improve merchandising and planning processes across its 360 stores in the UK and Ireland today.

The Oracle Retail project is part of JD Sports’ larger strategy to create a standard set of best practice planning processes that will support the development and growth of the business.

The sportswear retailer’s legacy systems could not offer the scale or efficiency to manage growing inventory levels and were unable to give up-to-date vies on merchandise performance, which had a negative impact on overall profitability and margin.

“We saw a real opportunity to become highly agile in our responses to customer demands through improved planning and forecasting,” explained Brian Small, group finance director of JD Sports’ parent, John David Group. “It was important to improve visibility across all channels, so we wanted the ability to plan seasonal stock targets at category level to manage both top-down and bottom-up planning. We wanted to improve sales and profit density in stores through more accurate management of markdowns and reduced stock levels.”

JD Sports plans to use a phased approach for rolling out the Oracle Retail applications to its business. In the first phase, the retailer will develop a standard set of best practice planning and forecasting processes based around the Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning application to raise sales visibility. The retailer expects to complete first phase implementation this year to generate more accurate forecasts of consumer demand and make strategic buying decisions.

The second phase of the project, scheduled for early 2008, will implement Oracle Retail Category Management to enable JD Sports to implement best practice around range and assortment planning. More effective assortment planning is expected to reduce stock levels and markdowns and maximise profits.