Lightsout IT and software services for Toymaster

"I wouldn't dream of looking for another IT company"
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"I wouldn’t dream of looking for another IT company"


The Toymaster buying group was set up in 1977 and now includes more than 250 independently owned shops. As an organisation, it prides itself on the fact that no two outlets are the same because each retailer stocks toys that suit its locality.

Toymaster has been a Lightsout customer since 1994.

Business Challenge

Each year, Toymaster processes in the region of 150,000 incoming and 150,000 outgoing invoices. Backing up its accounting data took more than 24 hours because information on each of the nine servers had to be backed up to a single server before being transferred to tape.

Legacy hardware included Alpha, Exchange and file and print servers. In addition, VMS would soon become economically unviable to run and DBL under VMS would no longer be supported.

"We knew support costs could rocket by 1000% within the next five years unless we migrated the data. We also wanted to future-proof our infrastructure and accelerate processing to increase capacity, which would accommodate business growth," explained Colin Farrow, Financial Director at Toymaster.


Rather than replacing large amounts of hardware, Toymaster opted to consolidate its hardware using Hyper-V virtual servers which would run on a Unix platform.

With nine servers-worth of data to move to the new system, minimising downtime was critical so Lightsout conducted the migration over a weekend, outside office hours.

"This was the second migration Lightsout has done for us and again it ran smoothly. Because they are conscientious and reliable, we have kept them as our main IT supplier for many years. Over time, they’ve built an inherent knowledge of Toymaster’s rather complicated bespoke system.

"For example, Lightsout take raw data from our invoice scanning system and ensure it goes through our accounting system. I wouldn’t dream of looking for another IT company. It would cost a fortune to find a capable supplier, and moving would pose a huge business risk,” commented Colin.


  • Achieved a return on investment (ROI) within 18 months.
  • Backing up now takes half the time it used to, which means it can take place overnight.
  • Invoice updates covering 70,000 transactions take 10 seconds rather than 90 minutes.
  • Period-end processing used to take 6 hours; it now takes 45 minutes.

"Once Lightsout had completed the migration, a manager came to me because he thought we were invoicing fewer transactions because his team didn’t have as much work to do. I explained that he had nothing to worry about and that the workload had dramatically reduced because the new system is so much quicker," said Colin.

Business Benefits

  • Rapid ROI
  • Avoided a 1000% rise in support costs
  • Dramatically reduced existing cost of ownership
  • Radically increased processing speed
  • Avoided business disruption
  • Released staff time
  • Increased reliability
  • Replaced nine server footprints with one
  • Future-proofed IT infrastructure
  • Released extra capacity to enable the business to scale up.


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