Not so long ago it seemed that the twin developments of online retail and e-books spelled the end for traditional book retailers. But Waterstones has responded to these challenges by strengthening not only its customer experience, but also by working with its logistics partner UTL to strengthen its supply chain. No wonder it has become the Overall Winner of the 2015 European Supply Chain Excellence Awards.
Some 72 organisations were shortlisted this year and came to present to judges. And as one of the judges I was tremendously impressed by the drive, commitment and sheer ingenuity exhibited by the entrants.
One of the key themes this year was the vital importance of logistics in dealing with humanitarian crises. The Extreme Logistics category saw a series of entries from organisations dealing with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. One of our judges with experience of extreme logistics said: “This must have been a very, very difficult operation because normally when you have a disaster, day-by-day you know more and more and you can plan better and better, but with Ebola, every day was a new scenario.” Not surprisingly, the judges wanted to recognise all three of these entries.
The Individual Contribution Award went to Birgitte Olsen, who as head of logistics at the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, has for many years played a key role in ensuring that vital aid gets to where it is needed.
Award winners include some of the world’s leading companies including Suzuki, Philips, Twentieth Century Fox, Diageo, and Telefónica. But there were also some outstanding entries from small businesses including SME of the Year winner Scandinavian House. Team of the Year was Firebox with arvato. Firebox is a small online retailer that is working closely with its logistics provider to punch above its weight – enthusing staff across the operation with a sense of excitement and can-do spirit.
Sometimes the judges are presented with entries that show tremendous promise, but are just too early in their development to provide clear evidence of achievement. In that situation, we always encourage the entrants to come back. One such example this year is NOVUS, the industry-backed degree scheme. Last year, the judges were impressed by the ambition of the scheme – and this year they were impressed by the obvious achievement in bringing new talent into the industry. Not surprisingly it won the Award for Training and Professional development.
This year, there were a number of entries that fell into the category of “just a bit to early”, and we hope they will come back next year. My congratulations to all the shortlisted companies, and especially to the winners.