Meridian Holdings signed up in 2003 to be one of the first users of the then-new Sage Evolution ERP package. More than a decade later, the software is still the engine of the company’s fast-growing business.

Meridian and its subsidiaries Cool Wines and Meridian Wine Merchants market, sell and distribute wines from over 40 estates, making the group one of the top five wine distributors in South Africa.

Employing over 180 people and distributing to over 4,000 customers in seven regions, the group relies heavily on its business management solution.

“Because the company grows and changes so rapidly, we needed a solution that could grow with our business,” says Melanie Glyn-Jones, National Financial Manager at Meridian Holdings. “What appealed to us about Sage Evolution is that it is flexible and customisable. We consume and analyse large amounts of information in this business and needed a solution that would allow us to write tailor-made reports, often changing reporting fields.”

Pinoak Solutions, Sage Evolution Business Partner and Authorised 3rd Party Developer, led the implementation. Over the years various competitors have approached Meridian with alternative solutions, but nothing has matched the ease of use, service, value and flexibility that Sage Evolution offers. The company has gone through mergers and restructurings over the years. Through it all, Sage Evolution has been the one constant, often helping to ease merger pain, easily integrating all relevant information into one system.

Says Glyn-Jones: “The fact that we can get any type of information in detail or summary, in any format with formulas, layout and customisations is almost unbelievable. “We use the Business Intelligence Centre (BIC) reporting tool extensively to help achieve this. Through Evolution, we have effectively eliminated one-sided entries, and have experienced very little downtime. Human error has also been minimised through automating orders and deliveries, while stock and inventory processes have been streamlined.”
Meridian has taken advantage of many add-on modules. The Discount Matrix module is invaluable as it allows the company to offer different discount levels to different customers on different products.

Sage Evolution’s Warehousing module is another essential in a distribution business. “We have three warehouses and stock control is vital, as 90% of our stock is on consignment. We know exactly what stock is where at any given time. It also allows us to reserve stock in the system, particularly if a specific wine is on a wine list and needs to be allocated to that customer,” says Glyn-Jones.

Another vital module is Linked Accounts which allows for a group account, for example Pick ’n Pay or Makro, to have separate accounts for each store.

At month-end, the system links each invoice into one head office statement. Meridian continues to grow with the solution, and has recently started using the Multi Currency module which assists it with exports into six African countries. The Units of Measure functionality of the inventory module allows the company to have a bottle price that is different to a case price on one inventory item.

Meridian also has implemented the Procurement, CRM Premium, Debtors Manager and Alert Manager modules and as well as Inventory Segmentation functionality of the Inventory module.