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Bunzl Catering Supplies Realizes Supply Chain Planning Improvements with RELEX Solutions

Feb 29, 2024 3 min

Leading UK food packaging distributor realizes significant benefits across supply chain planning, demand planning and collaboration.

Bunzl Catering Supplies, one of the UK’s leading distributors of catering consumables, food packaging and hygiene products, has realized significant benefits since deploying forecasting and replenishment capabilities from RELEX Solutions, supporting supply chain planning, demand planning, and cross-functional collaboration across its operations.  

Part of Bunzl plc, a FTSE 100 business, Bunzl Catering Supplies utilizes its global purchasing scale and expertise to source, consolidate and deliver a comprehensive range of products to the UK hospitality market. This includes sourcing and stocking their own Bunzl Exclusive Brands which are designed to offer an alternative to other leading brands by offering ethically sourced, great value products at highly competitive prices. Bunzl Catering Supplies is also committed to offering the UK hospitality market genuinely sustainable alternatives to existing products through its ‘Sustainable Future’ programme and its Exclusive Brands include reusable, recyclable and compostable ranges. They deployed RELEX in order to optimize inventory distribution, improve availability to customers and reduce the risks associated with overstocking and understocking.  

Since implementing RELEX, Bunzl Catering Supplies has seen improvements right across its supply chain operations, exceeding their initial expectations. Overall, they’ve improved product availability significantly which was their biggest goal at the outset of the project. Bunzl also saw a corresponding decrease in inventory value and were also able to reduce manual workloads by automating a number of key processes.  

“Whilst Bunzl Catering Supplies has historically delivered extremely high levels of product availability to its customers, we felt that our existing forecasting process could be improved,” said Daryl Rhodes, Supply Chain Manager for Bunzl Catering Supplies. “Our old forecasting model was based on a short three-month history whereas today, we can provide a sophisticated and informed forecast capturing sales and demand factors. This includes seasonality which is vital when working in an industry like hospitality, where having products available for our customers at peak times is so important. Prior to RELEX, taking account of seasonality was an extremely time consuming and complex process. RELEX also gives us a holistic view of the entire stock position across the business which has enabled us to make more effective use of our existing inventory.  The supply chain function at Bunzl Catering Supplies is now empowered to own the process and have visibility of the consolidated forecast and supply plans, enabling us to manage and review key KPIs in a centralized manner and drive on-going improvements.” 

With RELEX, Bunzl Catering Supplies forecasting process is faster, simpler, and more transparent. Utilizing AI and machine learning has automated a lot of previously manual tasks and added a layer of intelligence to the forecasting process, leading to more precise forecasts and optimized inventory across distribution centres. Additionally, configurable exception-based management capabilities has proven invaluable in highlighting deviations for planners to act upon.  

“We are proud to have supported Bunzl Catering Supplies to deliver these impressive results,” said Stefano Scandelli, SVP EMEA and APAC, RELEX Solutions. “In an era where distributors face increasing complexities and market demands, optimizing inventory using AI and ML leads to more accurate forecasts and improved availability, meeting customer needs efficiently while maintaining a competitive edge.”