Grafton Group plc. (“Grafton”) is an international building materials distributor and DIY retailer with operations in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Finland. With over 8,000 employees and ₤2.0 billion in revenue from continuing operations, the company has expanded through acquisitions and organic growth to include over 330 locations serving customers across the construction and home improvement markets.
With Planful, Grafton modernized its consolidation and reporting processes, transforming FP&A into a strategic source of value for the entire business.
Grafton has built its business on acquisitions and organic growth to capture a large portion of the construction and DIY markets. The Group operates a federal structure that provides local management teams with the freedom to act independently within a tight financial reporting and control framework.
Since implementing Planful the Reporting Team has freed up more time, can now more easily run ad-hoc analyses, quickly answer questions from executives and the Board, and have a more easily accessible history of the company’s financial records.
Niall Jameson, the company’s Head of Group Reporting commented that “Planful provided a way to put all of our financial data into a single database. We could then speed up consolidations, get the Board reports distributed, create reports, see trends, and become a more value-add function for the business.”
Niall set out to accelerate consolidations and reporting while giving Grafton a single source of information for financial insights. Any time given back to FP&A from faster monthly processes is being used not only to add in-depth review cycles to consolidations, but also to look for trends, ask questions, and be more responsive to executives, the Board, and the business.
“Our consolidations were relatively simple, but they had to be faster,” explained Niall. “When looking for an FP&A solution, we wanted a historical record of the business, faster reporting and analysis, and the ability to build on those capabilities in the future. I also wanted a user-friendly solution because the system was going to be managed centrally by the finance team. We looked at 12 vendors in total but quickly settled on Planful because it was viewed to be the solution that was most closely aligned with our particular requirements.”
Grafton focused on reporting templates in Planful and added the flexibility of creating highly customized reports using Spotlight for Office. That helped to support executives, but the prospect of reducing the time spent on ad-hoc reporting added to Planful’s appeal and reporting timelines were shortened.
“I want to be a value-add individual, I want to review financials fully before they get to the Board,” Niall said. “I now have the time for that more in-depth analysis. Planful equips us to better stay on top of everything that’s happening in the business and meet earlier reporting deadlines while also accommodating the next phase of growth in a developing organization that has ambitions to expand its footprint in other countries.”
The speed and flexibility of Planful gave Grafton newfound power to dig into past data, quickly and answer questions from the business.
Planful provided the financial platform for Grafton to speed up consolidations, ease reporting, and respond to ad-hoc reporting and analysis requests, all while cutting days from monthly workloads. And, they’ve gained extra time to work with the business when questions do crop up.
That speed in close and consolidations translates to reporting, too. Planful easily handled quirks with their monthly reporting processes and methodologies, and executives requesting reports in unique formats. It’s given Niall and his team the time to quickly respond to ad-hoc requests and dig into the numbers.
“Once we started using Planful, the improvement was apparent,” Niall said. “I’m now providing answers back in 20 or 30 minutes that used to take much longer. The feedback from our business units has also been extremely positive, and that’s been a win-win for our reporting function. Members of the Board have also commented on the quality of our reporting through Planful.”
For key reporting days during the month, when the business units provide data and Niall and his team have to turn around Board reports, the change has been great. “With Planful, we’re consolidating, reviewing, and analyzing the information within faster reporting timelines.”
Having the Group’s financial data that is consolidated in one place is enabling as well. That historical record speeds ad-hoc analysis and gives FP&A more insight into how the business is performing over time. And, Planful’s ease of use ensures Niall and his team can manage the platform on their own while providing the scope for future growth and acquisitions.
“It was very clear from the outset that Planful was an easy platform to use,” Niall concluded. “It’s been a remarkable change with Planful as we now have a database of financial information that lets us quickly report and look at trends. Planful has turned us into a more effective team that, instead of just creating reports, we have an even greater understanding of what’s going on across the Group. That gives us the opportunity to add value.”