Students and staff who are around during the summer will have noticed that the walkway newsagent outlet (intriguingly named “Newsagent Plus”) has been closed from much longer than is usual for the Union’s annual “stock take”. The delay was caused due to “unforeseen problems” with the new electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) system being installed by ICU.
The delay was caused by the requirement to run a data network cable from the main ICU shop to the newsagent across the walkway (in order to connect to the new EPOS system). The College Estates division would have none of this – at first. Citing a plethora of information systems, environmental and health and safety regulations it was deemed “impossible” for such a cable to be run across the walkway. That was until the Union pointed out that there is already a cable across the walkway connecting the two outlets for the old system. Eventually, after much turning of the wheels of College bureaucracy, the cable was installed in the early hours of yesterday morning. Ramnath Ramanan, ICU Deputy President (Finance & Services) admitted that waiting for permission to put the cable in had left the Union “behind schedule” with the project.
ICU are installing the new EPOS system at a cost of £50,000 over a 5 year lifetime. The shop and newsagent have an annual turnover of just over £1 million. The lack of an automated trading system was causing unnecessary costs in terms of stock control – as one senior Union source put it “we never really know what’s actually been sold”. Better reporting should also allow the Union’s trading managers to make faster commercial decisions as well as facilitating scrutiny by student committees.
Staff in ICU’s trading outlets are getting used to the new EPOS system (which went live in the shop last week). While staff have complained of “teething problems” the general impression is favourable, with the few niggles expected to be ironed out over the next few days.
The newsagent finally re-opened at 8.30 this morning. The saga has caused much psychological turmoil for Oliver Pell, ICU Retail Committee’s resident manic-depressive, pessimist, and pedant. On news of the newsagent’s reopening, Mr Pell commented, “better late than never”.