Grape expectations for Dutch retailer

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New strategy helps cut stock and improve availability of wines.

Albert Heijn, the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, has cut inventory by 30 per cent while pushing up on-shelf availability of wines after bringing in JF Hillebrand to manage delivery into the Netherlands from vineyards around the world.

The retailer is part of the giant Royal Ahold group which has established Ahold Inbound Logistics (AIL) to take responsibility for all international inbound logistics for its European retail companies.

It wanted to improve the selection and quality of wines offered, reduce inventory, minimise obsolete stock, respond more quickly to customer demand, reduce operational and capital costs, improve stock visibility for all supply chain links by creating an integrated data platform, and improve the cross functional collaboration between production, global sourcing, international logistics and local merchandising/sales.

AIL and Hillebrand visited all the wine producers to explain the advantages of producing to forecast, rather than producing to order. This was vital in reducing lead times and responding more quickly to customer demand.

Hillebrand also established a warehouse in Cape Town where wine from many different producers could be stored temporarily before shipping to Europe. Using Hillebrand’s supply chain management system AIL planners can monitor all global stock positions in a virtual warehouse. Huub Fronen of Ahold Inbound Logistics says: “Inventory has decreased by 30 per cent, but on-shelf availability has risen to 99 per cent. Lead times are now just four weeks from order to delivery. It used to be 8-12 weeks.”

Hillebrand is continuing to develop the supply chain management system and plans to introduce a second phase, including EDI and RFID.

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