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Bradfords Building Supplies

swcomms completely overhauls Bradfords Building Supplies’ communications and IT systems with a cost-effective, fully supported, managed service solution that enhances their everyday operations.


Established in 1770, Bradfords Building Supplies comprises of Bradfords Tool Hire, Bradfords Kitchen & Bathrooms, and YPS Plumbing & Heating with more than 50 branches throughout the South West, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, making them one of the UK's leading names in the industry.


Bradfords needed to revolutionise their business communications in conjunction with coming to the end of their contract for their existing hosted multi-tenanted telephone solution.


In addition, the local area networks (LANs) at their branches were ageing and were from a range of mismatched manufacturers. Their broadband-based wide area network (WAN) was also very unreliable, which had a negative impact on their telephony services and their everyday business operations.


They used a tender process to find a standout supplier capable of delivering a quality, high availability network and telephony services to meet all their business requirements and to improve their customer service.


They wanted to invest in another OPEX-financed solution and needed it to be deployed before the end of their existing telephony contract. That was back in 2015; Bradfords has been with swcomms ever since and we have overseen further upgrades and additions to the original solution.


Our purpose-built data centre is at the centre of this multi-faceted solution, hosting all of Bradfords’ business systems, thereby providing an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) solution to overhaul their legacy servers.

The care of their server hardware and the VMware virtualised environment that hosts the applications is now supplied by swcomms as a managed service and has alleviated them from the daily tasks associated with looking after IT infrastructure. Their servers and environment were updated again in 2020 to improve performance. The result is that all branches benefit from a centralised IT resource for their business systems.


This is backed up and replicated to Bradfords’ comms room at their head office in Yeovil to provide a business continuity and disaster recovery solution that they can rely on in the event of an incident affecting the primary servers.


All branches are connected to the data centre and head office-hosted business systems via a new Cisco Meraki SD-WAN to offer far superior connectivity and resilience. swcomms supplied an MPLS network of fibre leased lines from a single network provider. These connections benefit from enhanced service level agreements (SLAs) - hours rather than days - that are not available with broadband.


Every site has a second SD-WAN fibre to the premises (FTTP) link (where available) or fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connection from a different carrier to ensure 100% availability. SD-WAN technology gives Bradfords access to double the bandwidth for improved connection speeds and enhanced reliability.


We overhauled the branch LANs with new cabling and cabinets containing Cisco routers and Cisco Meraki switches, firewalls and access points that can be easily managed across the estate with a web-based portal. This also gives Bradfords’ IT team visibility of corporate and guest devices using their Wi-Fi.


Wi-Fi was needed as a critical part of their new ERP production software. Handheld scanners allow for stock taking, stock movements and processing of materials to be updated in real time by staff working in yards and warehousing. Again, Bradfords’ IT team has visibility of the location and performance of every access point and scanner from their portal.


Back in our data centre, we also host a VoIP telephone system on their virtualised platform with everyday administration tasks managed by Bradfords’ IT team without the cost or delay of third party engineers.


The Mitel UC solution gives Bradfords a resilient phone system with easy call forwarding, automated attendant for every branch, work groups, voicemail options and unified communications features, such as voicemail-to-email integration, instant messaging, click-to-dial and conference calling with the option to integrate with video services. The Mitel UC is primed for growth too with capacity for 20,000 users.


It supports Bradfords’ mobility requirements by providing hot-desking capabilities and for mobile or PC-softphones to be used as a telephone extension when staff members are away from their desks.


Bradfords uses a cloud-based call logging and reporting tool to monitor call traffic, response times, missed calls, manage billing, etc. to ensure staff numbers can cope with demand to maintain excellent customer service.


swcomms migrated Bradfords from their hosted lines and calls service to SIP trunks to reduce their call costs with an inclusive package to local, national and mobile numbers. We were able to transfer all their existing numbers to a load-balanced SIP service, which also offers enhanced disaster recovery options, improved SLAs and flexible numbering options.


We deployed Cisco Umbrella to provide security and web filtering on all devices to ensure staff are not wasting time viewing inappropriate content while protecting them from web-borne threats. Webroot anti-virus software was installed to protect staff from phishing attacks and ransomware.


swcomms reviewed Bradfords’ Microsoft licensing, including user and server licences, to recommend the most cost-effective way forward for their estate, resulting in considerable savings. With unused licences removed, swcomms now actively manages all their Microsoft 365 licences to control costs and to advise on beneficial changes or upgrades.


The delivery of this project took significant planning and engineering resource, especially as the existing telephony contract was due to run out within five months from contract sign-off. Despite this tight timeframe, our PRINCE2-accredited project management team and engineers deployed the initial solution on time and within budget while our trainers ensured all staff members were confident in making full use of their new communications and IT solution from day one.


Bradfords’ invitation to tender resulted in a long-term partnership that has seen a major overhaul of their entire communications and IT systems from the ground up. Every high availability element is completely reliable and resilient which means staff can confidently manage and draw on critical, centralised resources to improve the way they run their business with the collective aim of improving their customer service.


All the elements were deployed by swcomms, a single supplier, who is the only point of contact for this future-proofed solution. We deliver multi-faceted support for Bradfords. This comprises of a four-priority reporting system with ‘Priority one’ being an incident that affects more than 20% of Bradfords’ entire system. Priority two to four are for lesser incidents. Bradfords has incident response and incident resolution times written into their contract, and we have achieved a 100% success rate in meeting these.


Bradfords benefits from having a dedicated account manager and support manager to oversee the entire contract and to give them a named main point of contact for any incident that may arise. We hold monthly account management and joint service review meetings to discuss any historic incidents, changes, product updates and continual business improvements. Bradfords has seen the benefit of from this and this one of the many reasons why swcomms has become an extension of their IT team.


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