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Waitrose Selects Cirrus Logistics to Model its Future Network Strategy

September 20, 2012

Waitrose selects Cirrus, the quality led retailer brings CLASS simulation expertise to its distribution network for a more agile response to customer demand

Waitrose, one of the UK’s fastest-growing supermarket chains, has brought in CLASS, the warehouse simulation tool from Cirrus Logistics, to support the development of their distribution network. The retailer’s growth plans over the next few years will require ongoing development across their distribution centres (DCs), and to ensure that the changes made will be effective and right first time, Waitrose sought to bring the simulation process of testing ‘what-if’ scenarios in-house through a CLASS licence deal with Cirrus Logistics.

With significant growth planned across all branch formats, including convenience stores (C-Stores), the company was looking for changes and improvements to its distribution operations to create a resilient, responsive and efficient operation. The Supermarket chain was also looking to add a new DC to its network in Leyland, Lancashire and wanted to make sure the process design for this was fully optimised. In the first instance, Waitrose decided to focus on their fresh operation and how to incorporate picking for mixed branch formats, where convenience and service station orders were being picked with traditional and larger branches.

Through the use of CLASS, Waitrose discovered that the current layout could be altered in order to save considerable travel time per picking journey, greatly improving productivity. “We’re very impressed with the results that we’re already seeing and the benefits experienced at this early stage of having CLASS within the Waitrose business,” remarked Ian Robbins, distribution network, analysis and budgetary control manager at Waitrose.  “We had looked at alternative options for simulating our DC operations and found that in the tender process CLASS was not only simple to use, it adapted to our unique requirements seamlessly.”

By using various data points in the initial trial stage, the Waitrose team was able to analyse its current operation and understand how increased activity and flow-through would impact operational efficiency and service to selling branches.  The model was used to simulate multiple activities including inbound arrivals, receiving, order picking, temperature controlled environments and loading to see how changes to pick techniques and to timing of the activities could positively impact the business as it grows.  Waitrose will now be able to test these scenarios to get the best out of its network for future growth plans before any layouts are changed or investments made in new buildings.

“With Waitrose being a co-owned business everyone employed by the company has an interest in the whole operation and its success,” continued Robbins. “It’s important that we make the best of our budgets and CLASS allows us to show the impact of the changes needed in order to grow our business.”

“Waitrose is a great partner to have within the CLASS portfolio,” said Simon Shore, managing director at Cirrus Logistics. “We are pleased to be able to support their team, not only in their growth plans but in proving the business case to all of its Partners.”