Last week Melissa Wells, Supply Chain Director at Brakes group, presented at our Breakfast Networking Event on the subject of planning for peak period in the supply chain and logistics function.

Melissa has 20 years’ experience in logistics in the retail, manufacturing and food sectors, working for Waitrose and Bacardi before moving to Brakes. At Bacardi the ‘peak’ period was the most important of the year because over 40% of sales were made in the last quarter. At Sainsbury’s there was a motto to ‘Create more Christmas’s’ to encourage the increased levels of adrenaline, focus and productivity experienced in the run up to Christmas, all year round.

Now Melissa plays a vital role in the supply chain operation at Brakes, a leading food wholesaler and supplier whose main ‘peak’ sales period, like most companies in retail, falls at Christmas. Peak planning at Brakes starts in January with a review of what’s happened over the Christmas period, what worked and what went wrong.

Key takeaways from Melissa:

1. Volume: customer profile changes and estimated demand must be considered to predict volumes.

2. Price planning: businesses must forecast demand for all seasonal product lines and plan different pricing, dependant on the different sources and suppliers, e.g. EU supply vs. UK supply.

3. Resource planning: businesses must prepare for the uplift in headcount in depots and in the head office well in advance. Many seasonal employees are hired for the peak period through agencies, additional shifts scheduled and holiday bans are put in place.

4. Capacity planning: Where and when are the ‘pinch points’ in your network? Capacity planning is based on space and volume so businesses must work closely the depots to prioritise loads, throughput, vehicles and plan additional storage.

5. Segmentation of the products: With thousands of product ranges and customers, it is impossible to focus on every product. Products should be segmented and prioritised through their volume and volatility, focusing on best-selling product lines and those that are potentially volatile.

6. Cross functional / cross business planning: Suppliers and their suppliers must communicate and collaborate to streamline the end-to-end project plan. Functions and suppliers interdepend on each other to locate the best-selling product lines strategically within the depot network.

7. Risk mapping: Managing risk and contingency for things that could go wrong using risk mapping for all activities, showing the probability of something happening versus the impact it has on the operation. Learning from failures and historical data to create a plan for the next peak period and making assumptions to decide what may be different this year.

3 key tips for success;
  • Planning is key – using historical data and assumptions of change.
  • Collaboration – Cross functional support throughout the end-to-end supply chain.
  • Analysis and mitigation of risk – contingency plans must be in place.

Look out for our next blog out soon, summarising the key takeway points from David McIntosh’s presentation regarding ‘People planning during peak’