Marston’s is the UK’s leading independent brewing and pub retailing business – with 13,000 employees, 2,150 pubs across England and Wales, and £650m annual turnover. Its facilities include the large- scale Banks’ Brewery site in Wolverhampton – which is also the company’s head office – plus breweries in Burton upon Trent, the Lake District, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, as well as seven UK-wide distribution centres.
Marston’s wanted to improve its business continuity (BC) planning, and was also being encouraged by its insurer to do so. Its BC plans had evolved over time and were not very formalised, while the company had also acquired new sites and inherited their plans – so the IT team was struggling with coherence and consistency.
As a large, geographically-dispersed business, there was a need to better protect Marston’s against threats, by improving the quality, consistency and resilience of BC planning and execution – in a focused, easy to use and cost-effective way. By 2007, Marston’s was looking for a solution which would deliver benefits across its six ‘Key Continuity Risks’:
- Simplicity: straightforward to use, could be integrated within Marston’s own web portal
- Plans: templates to enable faster and more effective creation of plans for different locations and requirements
- Ownership: enabling the clear assignment of roles, tasks and responsibilities
- Continual review: supporting the formalisation of processes, with assured updating and testing of plans
- Audit: providing manager visibility of gaps in planning reporting
- Reporting: to managers and the BC Steering Committee, including ongoing Task Summaries and Tasks Overdue
This objective was achieved by implementing Daisy’s award winning web-based Shadow-Planner platform. Business Continuity Coordinator at Marston’s Harriet Wood explains further, “We chose Shadow-Planner after we spoke to other users, who provided excellent feedback. It’s also won several awards, and that industry recognition carried a lot of weight. The original plan was to train 40 key managers to input and review current plans, to ensure they were kept up to date, but we soon scaled up our approach and developed a variety of new plans.”
Daisy implemented the Shadow-Planner solution along with Business Continuity Planning tools, in order to develop and maintain effective and up-to-date plans. Over 50 managers, covering all of Marston’s production and brewing sites, are now trained to use the solution.
Before Shadow-Planner the Head Brewer at Burton had no documented crisis plan. After Shadow-Planner, there were 53 plans in place, with seven crisis triggers for two key continuity risks, 20 actions for the seven triggers, and 16 procedures linked to those action plans. Meanwhile, powerful scenario testing capabilities also meant the business was far better prepared for numerous eventualities. Harriet continues: “While previous plans were largely brewery-based, we’ve now covered our distribution sites – not only increasing our BC plans, but also ensuring they are uniform. Office relocation was another big gain, and it’ s great to have a plan should problems affect one site Using Shadow-Planner also led us to build our own Crisis Management Room.”
The strength of BC planning was tested when floods hit Cumbria in 2009, inundating the historic Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth. The scale of the disaster was huge, but Marston’s was ready, as Harriet explains: “Everyone was well prepared, from the fast staff evacuation onwards. Brewing immediately relocated to Wolverhampton and Burton, the damage was assessed quickly, a date for reopening was predicted and continual customer service was confirmed.”
Corporate Risk Manager at Marston’s Jonathan Moore picks up the story, “This disaster actually became an opportunity to demonstrate Marston’s core values and strengths, with the overall resilience of the brewery actually strengthened. The business interruption cost to the brewery was £43,000 – a very low figure when you consider what it might have been. The financial implications of using Shadow-Planner are clear; it helped reduce that impact.”
Recovery was achieved with minimum business interruption, with Marston’s also able to demonstrate a clear commitment to the site, confirm the provenance of its beers, and become more closely
involved with the local community. With the brewery reopened in less than three months, it was named Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Pub Company of the Year by The Publican, which commented, “Jennings Brewery has supported not only its staff but the whole community following the disastrous floods. The way Jennings has turned around a disaster of this scale is nothing short of miraculous.”
Shadow-Planner has improved Marston’s BC capabilities in multiple areas, with more effective, accurate, up-to-date and consistent planning across a complex business. It has also helped to improve enterprise governance, risk and controls through more focused and auditable activity, as well as reducing business interruption losses significantly following the major incident. Harriet concludes: “The system enables very good reviews and analysis of your plans, including Crisis Scenario Testing, and everyone’s plans are in the same format. Shadow-Planner also encourages managers to look at the detail: who’s responsible for what, what should happen when, and so on. It enables us to make site-specific and so more effective plans. We’re very happy with the solution and what it provides to Marston’s. We’ve developed a close working relationship with Daisy, which has a clear development path for Shadow- Planner that we’re very keen to be involved with. Daisy is so well placed to take the solution forward with new features and functionality, really bringing together the software side with real-life business continuity requirements.”