The Bradfords Group

The Bradfords Group comprises of Bradfords Building Supplies, Bradfords Tool Hire, Bradfords Kitchen & Bathrooms plus Snows Timber, Crendon Timber Engineering, and YPS with more than 50 branches stretching from Cornwall to West Yorkshire making them one of the UK's leading names in the industry.


Bradfords needed to revolutionise their business communications in conjunction with the end of the contract for their existing hosted multi-tenanted telephone solution. In addition, the local area networks (LAN) at their branches were aging and sourced 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 and high availability 24/7 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.


After swcomms was successfully selected, we began to deploy our solution with our purpose-built data centre as its centrepiece hosting all of Bradfords’ business systems providing an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) to overhaul their legacy servers.


This meant the care of their server hardware and the VMware virtualised environment that hosts the applications used by all the group’s companies is now supplied as a managed service and has alleviated the day to day tasks associated with looking after an IT infrastructure.


The result is that all the branches benefit from a central source for all their business systems. They are also backed up to Bradfords’ comms room at head office in Yeovil to provide a disaster recovery solution.


All branches are connected to the data centre and head office-hosted business systems via a new primary MPLS WAN which offers far superior connectivity. The minimum requirement was for fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connections, but swcomms was able to supply a network made up of fibre leased lines and ethernet in the first mile (EFM) services from a single network provider. These connections benefit from enhanced service level agreements (SLAs) - hours rather than days - that are simply not available with broadband. Every site has a secondary back-up link from a different carrier to ensure 100% availability.


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.


The portal gives Bradfords’ marketing team valuable intelligence on number of new and returning visitors, time spent in store and in what areas to optimise customer engagement and to plan store design and staffing numbers. It collates email addresses, prompts Facebook check-ins and uses Bluetooth beaconing to tempt customers into their stores with special offers and persuasive text messages to create ‘the branch of the future’.


Wi-Fi was needed as a critical part of their new ERP production software used by Snows Timber. 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 on sites measuring up to 120,000sq ft – the equivalent of 20 rugby pitches. Again, Bradfords’ IT team has visibility of the location and performance of every access point and scanner from their portal.


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