Sunday 23rd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

One size does not fit all in supply chain

It’s no use trying to make one size fit all in supply chain, Sue McGeorge, GB supply chain director at Diageo, told delegates in the opening session of the Logistics & Supply Chain Conference which is taking place in London today and tomorrow.

Diageo, of course, is responsible for some of the world’s most iconic brands including Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Gordon’s gin, Hennessy cognac, and Blossom Hill wines.

To meet the needs of different product groups, the company had develop three different supply chain strategies. For high volume products such as Smirnoff vodka, it had an “Efficient” supply chain geared to producing and distributing large volumes.

For lower volume products, such as luxury brands, there was a “Responsive” supply chain which made use of finishing centres to tailor products to destination markets.


The third supply chain was “Agile” – designed for innovative products where demand might be volatile.

This approach to different product groups is part of Diageo’s supply chain strategy which also includes changing the organisational structure – going from a global organisation to an organisation where markets take responsibility for their indigenous supply chains.”

She also explained that the group had a strong focus on the core supply chain processes of  ‘Plan’, ‘Make’, ‘Move’ and ‘Technical’.

And she highlighted the importance of innovation in the supply chain – innovation didn’t simply apply to products, but also to supply chain operations. She highlighted the development of Ruut beer which had gone from development to market in eight weeks.

Some 200 delegates are attending the conference, which is chaired today  by Hugh Williams, of Hughenden Consulting.

In the second session of the day,  Shop Direct’s director of inbound logistics, Paul Miller, explained why the online retailer was benefitting from its focus on end-to-end and lower tier supply chain visibility.

Shop Direct’s brands include Littlewoods, Isme, K & Co and Woolworths. Miller said some 40 per cent of its orders now came via smart phones.

He described the process of capturing data from suppliers in the far east, and ensuring the data was accurate so that the merchandising teams knew the exact status of incoming goods. And he highlighted benefits in terms of availability, security and efficiency.

Supply Chain Standard’s 12th Logistics & Supply Chain Conference brings together supply chain leaders from around Europe to analyse latest industry developments, share ideas, and network with like-minded professionals.

Tomorrow’s sessions will include presentations from winners of the 2013 European Supply Chain Excellence Awards, including GSK, Argos, Telefónica UK, and Costa Express. The conference will chaired by Richard Hunt, chairman of London Ambulance.

Supply Chain Standard’s Logistics and Supply Chain Conference is taking place at ETC Dexter House in London from 2-3 April 2014.