Streamlined logistics network a priority for Super Retail Group in 2015


Keith Harrison is overseeing a massive redesign of the logistics function within the Super Retail Group.

Streamlined logistics network a priority for Super Retail Group in 2015
Super Retail Group solutions and architecture manager Keith Harrison.

 

The Super Retail Group is aiming to consolidate its retail empire by bringing the back-end operations of eight distinct retail brands into a single distribution centre network.

Australia’s sixth largest retailer has grown significantly over the years, organically and through the acquisition of brands like Rays Outdoor, Rebel Sport and, most recently, Workout World.

Super Retail Group solutions and architecture manager Keith Harrison says each of those businesses – representing hundreds of stores around the country – came with its own legacy supply chain system that have been incorporated into the group’s existing warehouses and processes.

But the scale of the company, and its expectations of further growth from here, pushed it to conduct a comprehensive overhaul of its supply chain and DC network.

The result is its ‘Supply Chain 2015’ project, and the implementation has already begun with a new DC in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Harrison says there were a number of factors behind the project.

"Once we started to bring in a certain number of containers of products each year, we projected out our rate of organic growth and realised that we were going to reach capacity," he says.

"Not only that, the existing DCs were not scalable to cope with greater influxes in 10, 15, or 20 years’ time. So, do we just build more? Or was there an opportunity to change our network?"

That existing supply chain was prone to double handling as well as less-than-full trailer loads being shipped out.

This was because each of the retail brands used its own DCs and logistics function to get products from suppliers to stores – even where there were identical products sold across multiple brands.

"For example, a particular tent model might be part of inventory for both Rays Outdoor and BCF," he says.

"Each chain will hold its own stock, and send them to stores separately."

The final reason behind the overhaul was that the Queensland-based Super Retail Group had no DC operation in Sydney – where the majority of its suppliers were located.

It’s fitting, therefore, that the Sydney DC was the first to be purpose-built. Based in the logistics centre of Erskine Park, to the west of the city, it began operations in May 2014.

The new centre means suppliers can pass on more of their products’ freight task to the far larger scaled operations of the Super Retail Group as a whole.

 Instead of delivering to individual stores in Sydney and New South Wales, they can deliver shipments to a single location.

"We are able to place an order for the 30 stores (in Sydney) plus anything we need to send to our Brisbane DC," Harrison says.

"We have the space and skills to get it where it needs to go faster and more cheaply."

The transition in Melbourne, scheduled for the first half of this year, will be slightly easier than the Sydney site. The group has a single DC site in operation in the western suburb of Altona, but it is still worked as several different DCs with the same double handling risks.

"There is quite a lot of duplication of inventory and duplication of effort," Harrison says.

"There are five separate warehouse management systems in place; they could just as well be 20km apart."

Under the Supply Chain 2015 project, these will be combined into a single DC on the same site from May this year.

Brisbane will host two separate DCs – one covering the automotive category, the other dealing with camping, leisure and sporting products exclusively – with a changeover beginning in February this year.

DCs in Perth and Auckland will also be converted to the single group-wide logistics model.

Read all about Super Retail Group’s plans and its Supply Chain 2015 initiative in the February edition of ATN. Secure your copy now.

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