Thursday 14th Dec 2017 - Logistics Manager

Building quality into the supply chain

Chris Pavlosky was born and brought up in the village of Thorne in South Yorkshire and worked at Markham Main Colliery after leaving school. His career took him into management consultancy with Coopers & Lybrand in New York. He was also managing director of brewer Courage and held senior positions with Dixons and Currys.

Between 1998 and 2001, he was non-executive director of Limelight, the Moben Kitchens, Sharp Bedrooms, Dolphin Bathrooms and Portland Conservatories business. He is non-executive chairman of Globelink2one Telecommunications company.

Later this month he will oversee the opening of MFI’s new national distribution centre housed in a 750,000 sq ft warehouse at Thorne near Doncaster, which will be the hub for all its logistics operations from the new year.

Pavlosky is chief operating officer of MFI, which has some 200 stores focusing on fitted furniture, and he had to move quickly to put in place a new logistics system to replace the transitional supply and logistics arrangements agreed with Galiform.

The transitional system was complex, with suppliers in the Far East, continental Europe and the UK delivering into several depots which served both MFI and Galiform’s Howden Joinery business. In addition, stock was available to Howden Joinery, as well as MFI, adding an extra level of complexity.

It was agreed that the interim logistics arrangement would end at Christmas. Clearly, there was an opportunity to put in place a more responsive system.

MFI, in conjunction with DHL Exel Supply Chain which is managing the Thorne site, decided to take a ten year lease on HelioSlough’s 750,000 sq ft distribution facility near Doncaster. The building was completed in December 2006 and there is scope for a further 230,000 sq ft of distribution space at the site. Pavlosky says MFI started work preparing for operations in May and it has spent £16m fitting out the building. It is filling it with £60m worth of stock ready to start operations after Christmas.

“We expect it to deliver massive customer service improvements,” he says.

MFI’s sourcing strategy is designed to provide the optimum balance of quality, cost and availability. For example, white goods are generally handled on a just-in-time basis. Kitchen cabinets are sourced from Italy – more expensive than eastern Europe but higher quality – and MFI holds four weeks’ stock. Cabinet doors are sourced from China and, because of the length of the supply chain, eight weeks’ stock is held at the NDC. Pavlosky reckons the NDC will handle 12 or 13 stock turns a year – equating to some £650m of sales.

To manage the inventory, MFI is using Manhattan Associates’ warehouse management system which links to a retail software system.

Pavlosky points out that one of the changes MFI has been able to make is to reduce the number of stock keeping units. For example, in a typical kitchen delivery, the number of skus has gone from about 120 to 80.

And, for the first time, all the product is barcoded with RF readers for picking. “This will enable us to improve the on-time in full (OTIF) delivery performance,” he says, pointing out that getting it right first time takes a lot of cost out of the business. MFI’s business model is based on home delivery of product. It sells fitted kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms along with furniture so its products do not fit in the boot of a car.

For example, a typical kitchen sale involves a visit to the customer’s home to measure up the kitchen space, followed by a session with the customer at a computer-aided design terminal. Once the design has been agreed and costed, a delivery date is agreed. A fitter will carry out a pre-installation inspection before the units are delivered and fitted.

Goods picked at the NDC are delivered to one of MFI’s home delivery centres and may go to an outbase for final delivery to the customer.

Under the new system, Pavlosky says it will be possible to deliver a complete kitchen much more quickly than in the past.

MFI used consultants LCP to help it plan the new system. It looked at all the usual warehouse locations, such as the Midlands, before deciding on Thorne.

One of the factors that affected the decision was access to the Humber ports. At the moment, road freight comes in at Dover, and sea freight comes in at Felixstowe and Immingham. Pavlosky says that proximity to the Humber opens up the option of bringing in more goods that way.

The warehouse has a number of features to improve environmental performance including grey water management while the lighting uses a combination of daylight control and proximity sensing. The principle adopted was to use as much natural daylight where possible and supplement that natural light with artificial light from the light fittings where needed. The design within the marshalling area is such that fittings are grouped together in threes and turn off in three stages.


Chris Pavlosky

Chris Pavlosky was born and brought up in the village of Thorne in South Yorkshire and worked at Markham Main Colliery after leaving school. His career took him into management consultancy with Coopers & Lybrand in New York. He was also managing director of brewer Courage and held senior positions with Dixons and Currys.

Between 1998 and 2001, he was non-executive director of Limelight, the Moben Kitchens, Sharp Bedrooms, Dolphin Bathrooms and Portland Conservatories business. He is non-executive chairman of Globelink2one Telecommunications company.