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A Progress OpenEdge™ eBusiness application developed by OpenAccounts is helping Per Una, the latest womenswear fashion venture of George Davies for Marks & Spencer, to achieve success by providing global access to information for management and suppliers alike via the Internet.

The Per Una womenswear range was launched at top Marks & Spencer (M&S) stores during the last quarter of 2001.

It has helped return the crowds to M&S and contributed to a turnaround from a 9.1 per cent decrease in
clothing sales during Q1 2002 to a 16.5 per cent increase in Q4 2002 compared to the same periods in 2001.

Per Una is a separate company to M&S with its head office in Hong Kong and subsidiaries in Hong Kong, the UK, Italy and in the near future Turkey. In spring 2001, when M&S announced to the City that George Davies would be designing, sourcing and manufacturing a new range of womenswear, exclusive to M&S, targeting the 25-35 year old age group, the signal was given for Per Una to get up and running. Time was of the essence as Per Una had just six months to create the supply chain and administrative support that would enable the new range to reach the top M&S stores within six months.

The key requirements were to be able to access one common accounting system from anywhere in the world and provide a self-service facility to suppliers for adding their own invoices and monitoring payments via the Internet. Speed of implementation and low total cost of ownership* were also paramount considerations for an operation which may be multi-national, but certainly did not want to carry high administration overheads.

Initial research for a suitable accounting suite drew a blank, even with auditor colleagues for finance
director Andrea White who headed the accounting systems evaluation: “We didn’t want to buy an enormous system that would be complex and time-consuming to implement, we simply didn’t have the time. But we did want to embrace the Internet to simplify the whole system of invoicing and payment for suppliers who we knew would be scattered around the globe,”

Per Una’s main design operation is based in Italy; a smaller design team in the UK moderates the more extreme Italian style for British taste and materials and manufacturing are primarily sourced in Turkey, Italy and the Far East, and to a lesser extent from the rest of Europe. The main warehousing and logistical operation is based in the UK. Per Una controls every part of the supplychain including the presentation and branding of the range within the stores. A key strength is speed of reaction, with goods set to make it from design idea to shop rails in a few weeks, rather than months.

OpenAccounts was selected from a small shortlist, reflecting the scarcity of suppliers with proven ebusiness capabilities of their financial accounting applications. OpenAccounts has gained acclaim and a fistful of awards (including for example the prestigious Accountancy Age Award for Excellence in Enterprise Systems 2000 ) for skill in pulling off high functionality and quality without being over complicated.

Andrea White said: “While other software houses have web-enabled everything in sight, I like the way
OpenAccounts retains a solid core of back office functions for the usual ledger, management and company accounting, and reporting operations and harnesses the Internet through its eFinance options to improve integration with third parties, reduce the paper chase and improve all-round productivity. OpenAccounts’ thin client options also provides the web browser interface to the system from any Internet -connected system, which keeps me in touch on the move.”

OpenAccounts has been a Progress partner since 1990 and today uses the Progress OpenEdge™ platform for building e-business and enterprise applications. It couples the scalability and low cost of ownership* of the Progress database, with a standards-based messaging infrastructure and a rapid development framework, to provide serious application developers, like OpenAccounts, with everything needed for building sophisticated business, web-enabled applications.

Per Una selected OpenAccounts and went live just six weeks later.

The OpenAccounts eFinance module enables Per Una’s top 50 suppliers around the world to key in purchase invoices to the system in their own language. The self-service features in eFinance also enables suppliers to check the authorisation procedure and see when their invoices fall due for payment, greatly reducing the workload for Per Una. Smaller suppliers without Internet access send invoices to Per Una’s offices which currently access the central OpenAccounts system via Citrix web-browser technology .

Per Una is impressed by the speed of implementation and the approach of OpenAccounts; “OpenAccounts is the best software company that I have worked with,” says Andrea White, “The solution is not only easy to use and flexible, but really works via the Internet to improve efficiency and accessibility of information. The underlying Progress technology has also proved highly reliable and we are now investigating using it to develop our own, tailor-made, overseas warehousing system in-house.”

* see the Aberdeen Group’s on visible cost of ownership study, updated December 2001 which shows that Progress is on average 40 per cent cheaper than Microsoft and a third as expensive as Oracle over five years.

About OpenAccounts

OpenAccounts plc was founded in 1990 to design and develop OpenAccounts Financials (using Progress technology) as a best of breed corporate accounting and financial management system. OpenAccounts' philosophy focuses on strength in back office transaction processing and integration and, more specifically, on adding value to the finance function by making practical use of eBusiness technology to automate standard processes and workflow, not only within finance, but providing self-service access and information delivery across the entire organisation and to customers and suppliers

About Progress Software

Progress Software is a global supplier of software and services that simplify the development, deployment, integration, and management of business applications. The Progress® OpenEdge™ platform, with the industry's leading embedded database, delivers lowest cost-of-ownership applications that are rapidly implemented and easily integrated with other enterprise, extended enterprise and Internet applications.

With the expertise of more than 2,000 independent software vendors (ISVs) and application service providers (ASPs), Progress Software and its application partners supply more than $5 billion annually in Progress technology, applications and related services. Customers span 50,000 organisations in more than 120 countries including 70 percent of the Fortune 100. Progress Software Corporation (Nasdaq: PRGS), is headquartered in Bedford, Mass. Sonic Software designs and develops the Sonic range of products in the USA. In Europe, they are distributed by Progress Software. In the UK Progress Software can be reached at 01753 216300 or on the Web at

Progress is a registered trademark of Progress Software Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. OpenEdge is a trademark of Progress Software Corporation in the U.S. SonicXQ, SonicMQ and the Sonic Software logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sonic Software Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Any other trademarks and/or service marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

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T: 44 (0)1763 208708 F: 44 (0)1763 208813 E:

Linda Trim
Saffron Communications
T: +44 (0)1763 208708
F: + (0)1763 208813

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