Robert Welch reduce stock by over 20%

James Linder, Materials Manager, Robert Welch

Robert Welch[This article is brought to you by Slimstock]

Major retailers, 5 star hotels and restaurants, first class airline passengers and even those dining at Number 10 Downing Street have one thing in common: products from Robert Welch. Founded over 50 years ago, and now run by the next generation of the Welch family, theChipping Camden based company has excelled since starting off with a drawing board in a single room. However, as with any growing business, success brings challenges. “An increasing product range and expanding customer base, combined with varying demand profiles was giving us growing pains. In short we were working hard to maintain our service levels but at the expense of too much stock”.

James Linder, Materials Manager, Robert Welch: “Before Slim4, our stock levels were pure guesswork”.

Every single item sold by Robert Welch is designed in house and goes through rigorous questioning about its function, manufacture, durability and ease of use. The results? Timeless design and peerless quality. “These values have, over the years, attracted a very discerning and demanding customer base, which has meant that customer service has and always will be at the heart of our business operations”, states James Linder. “Availability is the key to our operations. A major challenge to achieving this is our diverse customer base. Our retail customers bring predictable but seasonal demand, however, hospitality accounts result in intermittent demand. Large orders can get placed at short notice, eating in to buffer stocks over night. The only way we could cope was to hold excess stock.”

Forecast visibility

“The first thing that attracted us to Slimstock, and their inventory management tool Slim4, was the ability to analyse and forecast our variable demand patterns”, says James. “With improved understanding of demand and the integrated stock management module we instinctively knew with Slim4 that we had the chance to address the customer service challenge of a diverse customer base”, states James.

Less stress equals better results

“It had got to a stage where our planner was working flat out just to stand still. We were considering employing more planners. Instead we opted for Slim4”, says James. After a quick implementation, first results quickly followed. James continues, “For the first time we actually had time to sit back and analyse historic demand. We moved from wasting time crunching data to spending time understanding what the data was telling us, allowing us time to lay down robust replenishment plans. Instead of fire-fighting we now manage by exception and have much more control of our supply side operations”.

Initially, we were surprised at some of the buffer stocks, both large and small, but on closer inspection everything Slim4 was telling us made sense. The fact we could clearly see our stock situation gave us the confidence to reduce it to the levels suggested by the tool.”

Next steps

With Slim4 now bedded in and an essential link in the supply chain, James is targeting further improvements; “We have started sharing our forecasts with our account managers, who have since shared them with some of our biggest customers, with very positive feedback. We know there are further improvements we can make and that Slim4 is the tool to help us progress.”