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Universal Cycles Ltd


Industry : Cycle Importer & Distributor
Scenarios : Distribution & Operations


Company Profile

Formed in the early 70’s, Universal Cycles is now the leading distributor of cycles in the UK 


Replacing Tetra Chameleon 2000 system with Navision Attain provides Universal Cycles with significant reduced administrative costs

Universal Cycles is an independent family owned business and is currently the leading distributor of cycles in the UK. The Rayleigh based operation specialises in the importing and distribution of adult and children’s cycles from its purpose built distribution centre in Essex. The company recently acquired the rights for cycles and accessories for Muddy Fox mountain bike brand.


The company operated with a variety of administration processes consisting of manual and electronic systems. These included financial, distribution and stock management processes based on the Tetra Chameleon 2000 UNIX based system. The main issue facing the company was the hidden costs of maintaining a variety of disparate systems. The key requirement was for a solution that provided a visible flow of information across the company about what was really happening to their customers and inventory. The target was to ensure that the selected system supported all operations in ensuring timely deliveries of quality products.

Working with Cambridge based Anglia Business Solutions the company deployed a state of the art system tailored specifically to meet the needs of the business. A totally integrated Navision Attain solution provided the base for a powerful management information platform. It provided the company with improved access to up to date information and assisted in greatly reducing the current administrative workload. The system has helped to radically improve the company’s efficiency by reducing much of the previously unproductive data duplication tasks while providing instant information on significant business trends to facilitate executive decision making.

The Selection Process

The company needed a flexible powerful modern company wide business management system capable of meeting its very specific requirements. Apart from the normal financial and distribution reporting requirements, the system also had to cater for a number of applications specifically configured to how the company worked.

The Business Solution

Universal Cycles selected the Navision Attain ERP system as the platform of choice based on its combination of powerful functionality and integrated development facilities.

As Chief Accountant, Tony Brown explained, “We were very impressed with the standard functionality of the Navision product. However, it was the ability to change it to how we wanted to work that really appealed. We spent a long time being restricted by the inflexibility of a standard package. We did not want to find ourselves in a similar position in future as the company expanded.

We were also influenced by the in-depth Navision knowledge and consultancy skills provided by Anglia Business Solutions. We already had a successful working relationship that spanned ten years and they quickly got to grips with what we were trying to do and could advise us on the best way to achieve our objectives.

Detailed discussions with our staff defined how the complete system would work for us. From this analysis, Anglia developed working prototypes that we were able to test to ensure that our business objectives were met. The complete solution was fully tested using data transferred from our old Tetra system. Once we were satisfied that we had covered all of the requirements, we went live. We encountered a few problems during the transition but the support from Anglia has been invaluable in enabling us to resolve the issues and get the most out of the system.” 

A key requirement of this solution was the provision of a Warehouse Picking Screen that allows the warehouse to select all sales orders for despatch sorted by either trade or catalogue customer. Sales order lines are only shown where there is sufficient stock for the order to be shipped. Functionality is also provided which allows the despatch of trade orders to be reviewed and authorised on a customer-by-customer basis.

A further requirement for this solution was to automate and centralise the storage of carrier information and the printing of standard carrier labelling and barcodes. This involved consolidating the carrier information held on three separate systems and providing the data capture and printing functionality from within Navision. Data capture is provided for standard carrier details such as delivery address and shipment weight. Additional fields were created to input information such as delivery phone number, package type, destination depot and consignment insurance type. In addition to facilitating the printing of standard labelling, each carrier label needed a bar code. Each consignment number is converted into a barcode using the Code 128 Standard. The resulting barcode is printed on a laser printer using Code 128 fonts.

Further tailored functionality was also provided including, available stock calculation, rules for reserving stock for key clients, enhanced product technical specifications and the simplified entry and valuation of freight, insurance and duty charges.

Business Benefits

The new management reporting system has already provided Universal Cycles with significant advantages over the previous method of operation. It has greatly reduced the data duplication activities throughout the organisation, which has improved the accuracy of information.
As Data Processing Manager, David Bullen explains, “Our previous variety of systems was a real obstacle to our growth plans. It meant that we had great difficulty in ensuring that our inventory was at the right levels to meet our client delivery commitments. In addition our users’ keyboard skills had to be exceptional in accessing the various modules of the old system. Navision Attain allows them to access information from any part of the system. This has resulted in a massive saving in time. We also found it very easy to tailor all of the screens to meet the needs of individual users.”

Bullen continues, “Working with Anglia Business Solutions in a partnership arrangement meant that we could explain what we wanted and they did the rest. The complete system was delivered to timescales and within budget. It has exceeded our expectations and is already proving to be a significant aid to our expansion plans. Apart from releasing a significant amount of working capital, the report writing features means that we now have access to an unparalleled level of accurate and timely information. This is proving vital in allowing management to identify significant commercial trends and thus identify and target our future growth opportunities”.

Services Required  
Navision Attain Solution Model
Project Management
Business Consultancy
Navision Attain Bespoke Design
Navision Attain Programming & Testing
Navision Attain Integration & Testing
Ongoing Maintenance & Helpdesk Support
Software & Hardware
Navision Attain
SQL Server


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