JD Wetherspoon has cut its deliveries to each pub in its 731-strong estate from an average of 27 to three a week since consolidating most of its stock into one national hub, run by DHL Supply Chain. The result is that product availability has risen to 99.7 per cent, and its first time delivery performance within a one-hour delivery window is 95.2 per cent.
DHL pinpointed Daventry as the best place to build the 170,000 sq ft national distribution centre, which is the equivalent in size to eight football pitches. The site was fitted with chill and freezer pods to allow for consolidated distribution of frozen, chilled and ambient food and drink items on temperature-controlled delivery vehicles. The company distributes some 16.5 million items a year to the pubs, averaging 2,230 deliveries a week. The hub holds almost all the company’s stock, bar some keg beers and high-value wine and spirits, which are distributed from either the manufacturer or Tradeteam; a DHL-run company specialising in dray deliveries.
The giant hub has more than 10,500 pallet positions, 24 loading/unloading bay doors and, at the highest point, the racking is the same height as three double-deck buses.
It houses some 1,000 core lines across three temperature bands from over 160 suppliers, and the warehouse management system features voice picking technology.
By 7pm each day orders are sent from the pub to the hub, and are routed to maximise efficiency. Picking begins by 10pm on the same day, and the product is picked into cages and loaded into temperature-controlled vehicles, to ensure stock is kept fresh and at its maximum shelf life.
The hub also distributes some 2,200 different point-of-sale lines, such as posters, menus and crockery, into the pubs.
The site has its own dedicated customer services team which acts as a central point for all pub queries. Pubs can phone Daventry to check orders, delivery times, relay queries or ask general questions.
Andy Towle, purchasing and distribution manager, JD Wetherspoon, says that recycling is a key priority, and as such, cardboard, plastic, used cooking oil, metal and aluminium are all recycled at the hub. The scheme has won awards from the recycling industry and the Environment Agency and in 2008 recycled over 5,400 tonnes.
Towle says it is planning to increase recycling further and is working with suppliers to help reduce the amount of packaging that comes into the supply chain.
Over the years the national hub has trialled various environmental initiatives such as running a delivery truck on 100 per cent recycled cooking oil from the pubs instead of diesel. Although this turned out to be economically unviable, Chris Sharp, managing director, food retail, DHL, says that the two companies will continue to push forward with environmental projects.
DHL has designed the rigid fleet trucks to feature wind deflectors, for which it is expecting a payback of under a year. He says it is also trialling low-emission silent fridges on the front of the cabs. More recently, trials have taken place using Nitrogen as a coolant for vehicle refrigeration to aid cooling and lower external noise.
To help service the whole pub estate the hub uses six out-bases (all run by DHL) across the UK and Ireland. These out-bases are used to cross-dock deliveries from the hub to the local pubs in that area.
Rail is also used to support deliveries to Scotland as well as ferries for sea crossings to Ireland, so deliveries across the pub estate use road, rail and sea as a means of getting product from the hub to the pub.
More recently the site has started to distribute uniforms (184 lines) to the entire pub estate, saving JD Wetherspoon on administration and distribution costs.
JD Wetherspoon opened 39 pubs during the last financial year, 13 of which were freehold, disposed of one pub and closed one other, resulting in a total estate of 731 pubs. During the next 12 months it is planning to open another 40 pubs.