Union Tiles cements efficient customer service, inventory control with fully integrated Embrace ERP business solution

Johannesburg, 12 Sep 2019
Read time 6min 10sec
Fact sheet
Solution: Embrace ERP
Industry: Floor & Wall Tile Distribution
Provider: ACS-Embrace
User: Union Tiles Group

Embrace delivers quantifiable benefits to Union Tiles:

  • Increase visibility throughout the group;
  • Reduce breakage and shrinkage by more than 25%;
  • Improve customer service;
  • Efficient distribution planning to minimise delivery costs; and
  • Significant return on investment (ROI).


The Union Tiles Group is the largest independent tile distributor in South Africa, handling the widest range of floor and wall tiles in the country, in ceramic, porcelain, natural stone or terrazzo finishes, while also offering a wide range of associated building material products and services. 

The company has branches in all the major metropolitan regions as well as in Namibia.


There was a lot of change and growth in the group and the company's previous ERP system soon became inadequate as it was rigid, had limited support, and could not meet Union Tiles' growing and changing requirements.

More and more had to be done manually and the system was not giving the required internal controls. Union Tiles recognised that it needed an integrated, centralised business solution to manage its 10 branches, two manufacturing companies and seven trading companies. This included a fully integrated accounting, inventory management, distribution, retail point-of-sale and manufacturing system, able to support a multi-company, multi-branch and multi-warehouse environment.

The companies within the group are all individual entities, with their own cost structure, but needed to integrate into a single head office.

“We looked at various ERP solutions but most were rigid, could not adapt to change nor growth and we would have had to change our business processes to accommodate the system. With Embrace came flexibility, scalability and comprehensive suite of integrated modules which could be tailored to our unique requirements, ensuring a 100% fit. We did not have to change any of our business processes,” explains Ross De Abreu, Managing Director. 

Cost was also a big factor and when comparing license and implementation costs to other ERP systems proposed, Embrace was the most cost-effective.  

A local product with easy access to local support was another key requirement. “The implementation and support team have been excellent, exceeding all expectations and having them on our doorstep has been a huge advantage. ACS-Embrace understands our business!” says Rhodri Harding, Assistant IT Manager.


Union Tiles purchases locally and internationally. It imports, manufactures, distributes and retails to the public, and all facets of its business are currently running on their Embrace end-to-end ERP business solution.

“Embrace stock management and reporting is excellent!  Our stock efficiency has improved enormously.  We have clear visibility of stock turn, movement and in process, with indicators of when and how much to order.  We can verify stock and have been able to close loopholes in terms of breakage and shrinkage by more than 25%,” explains De Abreu. 

Embrace gives full visibility of group stock across all companies, divisions and branches in real-time and on one screen, enabling stock enquiries, inter-company transfers and sales to other group companies. A purchase order, which includes transport costs is raised, invoiced and then “GRV’d”, in one seamless process. 

Salespeople are able to advise customers immediately whether there is stock available, in their specified colour, to meet their square metre requirements, as well as where the stock is physically located. Embrace splits the number of square metres required into boxes, advising customers how many boxes are required and then determines the tonnage. Salespeople can further assist customers in planning how they will take delivery of their goods, as Embrace provides the weight of the tiles in kilos, the weight its vehicle can safely load and the number of trips required. 

This functionality has further assisted Union Tiles with distribution planning and delivery costs, as Embrace calculates the correct weight and volumes to be loaded onto its trucks, ensuring safety standards are met and avoiding delays and fines at vehicle weighing stations.


“The integrated Embrace Retail and Point-of-Sale System has saved us a lot of time, money and administration while improving our time to service the customer,” explains Ana Chaves, IT Manager. Client payments on the previous system were cumbersome. Because of the complex group structure and the number of different companies within the group, separate transactions were generated for each order. Clients used to receive three separate invoices, make three separate payments, then to go to three separate areas to receive their goods.

Now, with Embrace, a single transaction is captured. The system then generates picking slips to the relevant warehouses so that when the customer arrives, the goods are ready for collection. The client receives one invoice and makes one payment, while, behind the scenes, Embrace splits the relevant amounts between the different companies. “Embrace provides one view of the transaction and it is now easier and much quicker for customers to collect their goods,” adds Chaves.

Embrace has a centralised credit management system, which can be viewed across the group, preventing customers from exceeding their credit limit at any branch. 

“With the consolidated reporting, we are able to generate and evaluate reports quickly, resulting in more accurate and timely information for focusing on reducing bad debt and increasing cash flow. This has helped save a lot of time in terms of administration and improved customer service.  We now have time to focus on other risk areas as well as the strategic aspects of our business,” says Nico Smit, Chief Financial Officer.

“In the past, we did not have a fully comprehensive accounting and business system. Now we have a complete business system, which is integrated and includes stock management.  Embrace has grown with us. We can take on new operations and factories effortlessly,” adds De Abreu. For example, Africote, a paint, plaster and coloured screed manufacturing division, was brought onto the system, bills of materials (BOMs) created and users trained, with limited assistance from ACS-Embrace. 

Before implementing Embrace, Union Tiles had to run 15 month-ends, one for each individual company. This was cumbersome and time-consuming and then still needed to be manually consolidated. “Now, on Embrace, we run one group month-end, which is simple, fast and requires little manual intervention,” adds Chaves. “Banking is also simpler and faster as payments are made into one head office account. Embrace then allocates the payment across the companies, and provides a consolidated report showing the allocation between companies.”

Statements and invoices are being e-mailed directly out of Embrace, saving a lot of time, paper, ink and postage costs.

“Embrace is running smoothly, without any intervention. It is user-friendly, cost-effective and used extensively throughout the group. Embrace gives us accurate, reliable, up-to-date, real-time information at the right time to enable us to make important and strategic business decisions. Our return on investment has been significant,” says Ross De Abreu, Managing Director.    


ACS-Embrace provides innovative, industry-built, end-to-end ERP business solutions, tailored for small, medium and large-enterprise companies. The system is scalable, flexible and power packed with functionality to embrace changing and growing business needs. On-premise or in the cloud, Embrace ERP empowers your entire workforce anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Delivering beyond solutions for more than 30 years, Embrace ERP enables the most agile, effective and lean operations, improved customer service and increased profits. With a legendary 100% success track record, end-to-end accountability, local expertise and unrivalled support, ACS-Embrace partners with you to grow your business.

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Editorial contacts
ACS-Embrace Jeanette Teles (011) 275 2000
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