Case Study: LimeLife by Alcone (L’Occitane’s Company)
LimeLife by Alcone, L’Occitane’s new brand, uses MRPeasy and gives a makeover to its supply chain functionality.
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Alcone has long been a well-known brand among professional makeup artists. When it looked to capitalize on its cult-like brand devotion and launch LimeLife by Alcone, a cosmetics line for consumers, it caught the eye of L’Occitane, a company in the process of building a leading portfolio of premium beauty brands. L’Occitane’s 60 percent stake in LimeLife by Alcone, positioned the newly established division for tremendous growth.
Alcone, the 60-year-old family-owned company, is legendary for its innovative high-quality makeup. It has been sourced for the transformative makeup applications that bring to life characters in Broadway’s The Lion King, Wicked, and Phantom of the Opera, as well as off-Broadway’s sensation The Blue Man Group. It has also been the makeup behind award-winning films including The Exorcist and The Godfather.
In addition, Alcone products are an insider’s secret among celebrities including Kelly Ripa, Kim Kardashian, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Even Cindy Sherman, the award-winning conceptual art photographer, professes her love of Alcone products.
However, during the course of launching the LimeLife brand, nothing could have prepared its leadership for its meteoric success. Established only four years ago, LimeLife by Alcone revenues approached close to $100 million in 2018.
Keeping up with this growth has been challenging. Because the company outsources to more than a dozen manufacturing facilities that produce and package its products, managing the manufacturing supply chain quickly became unwieldy. There were no systems in place to manage the myriad components that go into producing each product in the line.
Bob Bastedo, a cosmetics industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience working for brands like Shishido and LVMH, and now LimeLife’s Executive Director of Procurement and Purchasing, saw a clear need to manage the process from component purchasing, management, and planning. “At that point, we were dealing with 10 to 12 manufacturing facilities that we outsource to. It was a real mess.”
Bastedo was finding it ever-more challenging to track materials and product components, and he often had to rely on people at the production facilities for information, and even then, he couldn’t verify how up-to-date it was.
He knew that he and his team needed better manufacturing resource planning. Responsible for orchestrating all that goes into getting products out the door – which includes purchasing, packaging, manufacturing, and distribution — Bastedo was armed with little more than a QuickBooks application and Excel spreadsheets.
Enter MRPeasy, October 2018
Bastedo researched full-blown enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but found the expected nine-month implementation process both cumbersome and far too lengthy for this fast-growing company. And the ERP systems were pricey, to boot. Bastedo then turned his search toward a solution more suited for midsized companies – vs. multi-billion dollar manufacturers – that was agile and could scale as the demand for LimeLife products grew.
He also wanted a cloud-based solution, especially given LimeLife’s projected growth and international expansion. The solution needed to be able to share information from production facilities expected to be added in South America and Europe. His search revolved around manufacturing resource planning (MRP) and supply chain/logistics systems.
After evaluating a variety of solutions, MRPeasy stood out among other possible systems. It offered easy installation, a short learning curve, immediate access to data stored in systems in different departments throughout the company, and gave access to data within its outsourced manufacturing facilities.
Having only installed the MRP system in late 2018, Bastedo is already seeing big benefits. LimeLife has seen improvements in its supply chain reporting and planning, including the amount and accuracy of information coming from production facilities. Financial executives are excited about better and more quickly accessed data. And upper management is aware of the improved performance and on-time delivery of goods.
Bastedo has much greater visibility on the status of components among all outsourced facilities and he loves the ability afforded by MRPeasy to extract data that is current. He can easily create reports and provide information on all of LimeLife’s open orders. He is also able to provide the finance department with up-to-date and accurate projections of all purchase order receipts. “Our finance people really appreciate that for cash flow planning purposes.” Right now, Bastedo feeds the information to finance but is considering building an interface to go with accounts payable, and also Master Production Scheduling (MPS) and Forecasting.
For hundreds of companies with significant manufacturing needs, MRPeasy is a simple, yet powerful, self-service manufacturing resource planning system, allowing for seamless management of production, stock, customers, purchases, finances, and workflow. The software ensures seamless communication between sales, production, warehouse, procurement, administration, and finance, including integration with online accounting systems.
“I believe our supply chain has seen a significant improvement,” said Bastedo. “MRPeasy has taken a lot of the pressure off of fast-tracking.” Implementation was one of the easiest Bastedo has seen for this type of system; easy to install, easy to learn, and easy to maintain.
Also, cosmetics sales typically spike during the winter holidays and in the Spring. With the MRP system now up and running, Bastedo says, “I feel more confident about being able to manage that next big spike.”
“We hit a home run in choosing this. It’s the only MRP with the functionality that we need that is also cloud-based. We have introduced LimeLife in France, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, and are going to be selling in Japan soon as well. If and when we start to manufacture locally in those markets, MRPeasy is a proven tool that can support that. ”
“When we took this on, management was evaluating other ERP solutions as well. Instead, the MRPeasy system really works for us. With its inexpensive licensing model, MRPeasy is a no-brainer for us. While it may be difficult to measure the exact ROI,” said Bastedo, “MRPeasy has led to a significant cost savings and created the means to meet exponential growing demand.”
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