Case study: Finsbury Food Group 
Navigating supply chain challenges


£1.6 million

reduction in net working capital.



year-on-year service level improvement in Food Services.

Finsbury Food Group is one of the UK’s leading specialty bakery manufacturers. The group produces a wide range of cakes, bread, and snack products, as well as making baked goods under license for well-known brands such as Thornton’s, Disney, and Vogel’s. 

Despite the implementation of a common ERP platform in 2018, reliance on legacy planning tools and spreadsheets persisted. Acknowledging the imperative to harness their scale and facilitate sustained growth, Finsbury prioritized enhanced supply chain visibility and seamless integration of future acquisitions as they sought a new supply chain planning solution.  

Finsbury operates a mix of highly automated and labour-intensive factories. Some sites have time-sensitive processes like fermentation and proving, while others run in-line processes, from raw material to finished product. Optimizing such diverse operations without adequate system support is nearly impossible.  

One of Finsbury’s main project objectives was to enable effective S&OP and provide a platform for the company’s future Integrated Business Planning (IBP) initiative. In pursuit of these objectives and to overcome the challenges posed by disparate systems, Finsbury turned to RELEX for a unified and scalable planning solution. 

Optimizing supply chain operations 

The implementation began at the onset of the global pandemic, amid economic and supply chain disruptions. Despite the unprecedented challenges, Finsbury pressed forward with the implementation, even as they grappled with significant shifts in consumer behavior and shortages in staff and materials. 

While they implemented the RELEX demand forecasting solution, they kept their previous standalone forecasting system in place, and ran both systems in parallel. This approach allowed the team to take the necessary time to address data quality and train on the new system.  

Finsbury is split into a cake and a bread division, each with four factories. The project team decided to start the implementation of the RELEX demand forecasting solution in their more mature cake division. 

In addition to AI-driven demand forecasting, Finsbury also implemented RELEX for production scheduling optimization at each of their production sites. Taking the first weeks of their production plan from their integrated RELEX supply chain solution as input, the tools help the schedulers determine optimal production sequences, factoring in capacity, labor constraints, sequencing rules, and available materials.  

Streamlining supply chain processes 

Through RELEX, Finsbury achieved enhanced responsiveness, enabling the formulation of alternative scenarios that mitigated many of the challenges faced. 

Supply chain planning at Finsbury is more strategic with RELEX. With price optimization, scenario planning capabilities, and intuitive analytics at their fingertips, supply and demand planners can add significantly more value. At the same time, the business has become more agile, both operationally and from a customer service perspective.  

Relying on spreadsheets are now a thing of the past at Finsbury, enhancing the expertise of their teams and consolidating their operational knowledge base within RELEX. The ability to promptly update the planning model in response to changes in business rules or constraints has significantly enhanced operational agility as well. 

Furthermore, Finsbury’s overall planning performance has seen significant improvement. The recent integration between demand and supply planning has been instrumental in driving value across the organization. 

Eliminating functional disconnects has enabled Finsbury to make proactive planning decisions and identify necessary adjustments in labor and resource capacity, as well as explore alternative material arrangements. For instance, they can assess freezing options to capitalize on available capacity that would otherwise go unused. By incorporating costs and working capital requirements into our scenarios, they can effectively plan and budget our business operations, thereby influencing future outcomes.

Since introducing RELEX, Finsbury has experienced a reduction in net working capital by £1.6 million, largely attributed to smarter procurement and dynamically optimized safety stocks. 

The enhanced functionality provided by RELEX enabled Finsbury’s planners to work more efficiently and proactively. With RELEX AI-driven solutions, their demand planners can now focus on analyzing data directly from the dashboards, where they can add substantial value.  

Since the implementation, Finsbury’s planning teams have become significantly more effective in their roles, allowing them to accomplish their tasks at a much faster pace. As a result, they have been able to handle a workload twice the size of their previous responsibilities. Impressively, despite this expansion, only one additional team member was required. This highlights how RELEX empowers their planners to work more efficiently and effectively, freeing up time for them to focus on even more valuable tasks. 

The implementation of the system has fostered closer collaboration among Finsbury’s teams. Now, when adjustments are made to the demand forecast, supply planners can promptly assess the impact on inventory levels and their ability to meet demand. This real-time insight has resulted in a positive ripple effect on customer service, exemplified by a notable 5% year-on-year service level improvement in their Johnstone’s Food Services business. 

Liam McVey, Group Demand Planning Manager at Finsbury says, “The teams have done a fantastic job. The RELEX consultants worked closely with our experts and took the time to understand our business. This meant they could design a solution that was right for Finsbury. It was never a case of just pushing textbook best practices. We also conducted a proof of concept and post-implementation assessment at each site. This way, we could gradually establish a scalable implementation process.” 

With a much-improved S&OP process, the Finsbury team is now targeting their IBP initiative. “Finsbury is on a journey, and we are happy to have RELEX onboard. We now have the people, system infrastructure, and process maturity to take on IBP,” says McVey.