Water growth Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay Founded in 2012, deliciously ella is the plant-based and health eating empire built by Ella Mills. Over the last nine years, the company has grown rapidly and reached a point where the operational systems that supported the rapidly evolving company needed to change. That evolution has seen it move from its founding as a recipe website to a business that now includes a café, cookbooks and a growing range of products found in 7,000 stores across the UK. The company has also expanded internationally with sales in 27 EU countries.

The challenge

As with many small companies, international expansion meant local accounting systems were implemented to deal with local currencies. Initially, this will have seemed cost-effective, but over time the challenges mounted. It identified several key challenges:

  • Financial consolidation of different entities
  • A lack of visibility across the business
  • The accurate visibility of stock across the business was a big concern
  • Inconsistent integration with logistics partners
  • With no access to real-time data, accurate forecasting was difficult.

Another future challenge that the deliciously ella team were aware of, was that it would soon require external audits due to its success and size. Paying auditors expensive fees to extract data from disparate legacy solutions was a cost they wanted to avoid.

Sally Tuhami, finance director, deliciously ella, commented: “We needed to address being more international and be able to consolidate a wider business structure than we were able to. Being audit-ready is about having clear and documented controls and being able to demonstrate who’s done what.”

The choice

The team at deliciously ella shortlisted Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and NetSuite. In the end, it opted to deploy NetSuite. It would leverage its strong multi-entity and multi-national financials, the Inventory Management module, and NetSuite’s Planning & Budgeting. That would provide the accurate forecasting it knew it needed going forward.

deliciously ella was one of several companies highlighted this year at SuiteWorld, hosted in Las Vegas.

The project

NetSuite Professional Services was engaged to implement the solution. The system went live in January 2021. Besides integrating logistics companies, the NetSuite team also ensured that NetSuite ERP integrated with the other applications in use at deliciously ella. These include Folio3, which it uses for its webshop connectors, and Amazon. They also integrated NetSuite with Fast Four for bank reconciliation and its B2B gateway for EDI customers.

Tuhami commented, “Although we are still really only at the beginning of our NetSuite journey, the benefits are already clear. Everything is in front of us, and we no longer have a need for ‘Excel wizardry’ to gather the detail we need across the business. Reporting is no longer a clunky, people-dependent process. Most of all, being able to see our stock activity by customer, we’ve never had that ability before, is really fantastic as it allows us to plan and react accordingly.”

Those benefits include solving all of the challenges that deliciously ella faced before its NetSuite era. It is now able to manage the entire business and use real-time data to forecast and plan accurately.

Better financial controls benefit the business

NetSuite has provided better financial controls across the whole business, and its consolidation is no longer as painful a process as it once was. The solution has also ensured that the team is audit-ready. It no longer fears audit bill shock or the allocation of time that might once have been needed.

NetSuite will help the firm remain compliant across the EU. It is also better placed to expand into new international regions with the surety that financial and tax compliance is not such as big challenge.

While these statements are often heard following implementations deliciously ella can point to quantifiable benefits. Four clear benefits stand out:

  • The blending of retail and eCommerce sales has made month-end processes faster
  • The company is now able to generate invoices in hours rather than days
  • eCommerce data is blended into broader sales data every 15 minutes helping with stock control and planning.

Looking forward

This is just the beginning of the journey for deliciously ella. Ella and Matthew Mills have now taken the company fully private and once again made it a family business. The finance team intend to continue enhancing how they use NetSuite.

Enterprise Times asked Tuhami how they would do this. She answered: “We want to keep exploring the system. We’re already seeing the benefits – we’re on top of our stock, consolidation is straightforward, the drill-down reporting is a big plus, and we can implement financial controls better than before. But we know there are more efficiencies to be had, and we know we can refine processes even further. International expansion is important for us and OneWorld will play a bigger role.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

In some ways, this is a slightly unusual story for NetSuite. Many of its fast-growing customers look to NetSuite to provide the platform required to go public. It seems unlikely now that Mills will follow that path in the short term. However, the challenges for growth remain and with NetSuite it now has a tool to support that growth. As Tuhami concluded, “NetSuite is going to grow with the business brilliantly. The bigger we get, the more we draw on NetSuite’s capabilities.”

deliciously ella is a company with a strong future. The team have made tough decisions in the past, closing its delicatessen due to the impact of Covid but then re-opening with a vegan restaurant. This company is on track to become a huge success story, both for the UK and NetSuite. It will be interesting to see how large it grow in the coming months and years. Expect to hear more about the company from NetSuite in the future.


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