by Julian Goldsmith

CIO Profile: Trinity Mirror’s Tony Pusey on pioneering retail systems

Jan 29, 20123 mins
IT Strategy

See also: Trinity Mirror: the switch from paper to pixels Tinity Mirror: tech for the modern newspaper business

CIO at Trinity MirrorTony Pusey has spent the last few years refitting the company’s IT for it to compete in the digital media world. Looking back at his career, transformation has been at the core of his capabilities. At Accenture in the mid-1980s he worked with many of the leading banking, media and retail organisations in the UK managing implementation programmes around a change agenda.

After 10 years at Accenture, he left to start his own software company which specialised in CRM systems before Siebel or Salesforce were household names, eventually selling the company on to a bigger US supplier.

Retail challenge

In the mid-1990s Pusey was recruited to retail organisation Storehouse Group, which owned the British Home Stores (BHS), Mothercare and Habitat chains.

The company was bogged down in an outsourcing agreement with CSC that was preventing it from achieving the innovations necessary to move with consumer trends.

Pusey ironed out the outsourcing problems and went on to revamp the retailer’s supply chain system over the web during the next three years.

Pusey implemented a web-based collaboration application – better known today as an extranet – that allowed much closer contact between the retailer and its apparel suppliers.

Pusey maintains that the system cut ordering times down from 30 weeks to six.

“You cut your lead times for ordering drastically by collaborating with suppliers over the internet and maybe you would optimise the sale based on colour and size patterns,” he explains.

“Previously you had to order 30 weeks ahead. We could optimise the product when it was already in the stores because the fashion season is only about 12 weeks. Nobody was doing anything like it so was pretty innovative technology.”

After some three years at Storehouse, the company was taken over by billionaire retail tycoon Philip Green.

Pusey didn’t stay long under Green’s tenure because the change agenda had been powered down, but he has nothing but admiration for him as a business leader.

Green is famous for his intimate knowledge of the market and the products he sells in his stores, which is unusual for someone at the top of such a large business empire.

“I enjoyed working with Philip Green because you got faster decision-making from him. Once he’d made the decision that was it, you didn’t go through any endless presentations, you got on with it.”

This was in contrast to his next assignment at Trinity Mirror, but Pusey recognises the vision that Philip Graf had in laying the groundwork for the IT innovations that are now becoming a reality at the organisation.

That impetus was maintained when Sly Bailey took over from Graf as CEO in 2003.

“Sly was about making the business more efficient and what IT could do to bring in further centralisation. This final phase is about the technology-led operating model that would actually facilitate a big transformation in the operating model and drive new revenues through digital devices. For me this is the most exciting phase. It’s what I came here for and it’s what has kept me here.”