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Friday, 5 December 2008

19th November - Open Letter from Graham Sopp

I am writing to apologise for the problems caused to your businesses as we have gone live with a new software system at STL Distribution.

The decision to change systems was not taken lightly but our old system, which was 20 years old, was beginning to show distinct signs of age and we feared that it would become unstable. We had already found immense problems in trying to upgrade the system to provide functions required by today’s market.

We originally planned to implement the new system in August. However as the date approached, it became apparent that further testing of the new system was necessary before we could commence training people in how to use the system. We were faced with a choice of going live in late October or waiting until January 2009. Unfortunately, we would have faced immense difficulties in standing down our external project team of consultants for three months while we prepared to go live and then to re-assemble that team in January. After extensive testing of the system we were confident we could start with, at most, minor disruption. So we took the decision to go live in October.

Most of the problems we have encountered over recent weeks are related to business process bottlenecks and are not directly related to software and, in fairness to the system team, could not have been anticipated by the extensive testing we carried out.

We have now deployed our warehouse team in a different way which we are confident will optimise the flow of orders through the warehouse.

At today’s date we are picking orders from 13 November onwards and are working hard to catch up.

I am determined to resume same day despatch for the vast majority of orders as quickly as possible, but I need to be confident we can consistently provide this high level of service. I will write to you again soon when I am convinced we can commit to same day despatch.

I know the last few weeks have been difficult for you as our normal service levels have been disrupted and I apologise once again. We are working round the clock to resolve these issues. I would also like to thank those customers who have contacted us expressing their support and understanding for our team in this difficult time.

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