The East of England Co-operative Society is the UK’s fourth largest consumer cooperative. Primarily a grocer, they serve 124 stores across the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Since 2013, RELEX has provided East of England with space and assortment optimization and implemented the forecasting and replenishment tools in 2020.
Susie Hallett, Head of Continuous Improvement and Rob Hawkins, IT Development Project Manager took time out at RELEX Live 2022 to talk about their partnership with RELEX, implementing forecasting and replenishment during COVID, and the benefits of unifying space and supply chain planning.
Susie Hallett: We are from East of England Co-Op, and we are a food retail business. I’m Susie Hallett and I look after the ranging and space part of that.
Rob Hawkins: I’m Rob Hawkins. I’m one of the IT development project managers.
SH: So, we’ve got 124 food stores in total and an additional five forecourts as well.
We’re actually a little bit different, where we don’t manage a distribution center, we’re part of a central supply chain. What we discovered when COVID became a reality was we had some real challenges with supplier inbound and bits and pieces like that and have really struggled with our on-shelf availability. And also, as we don’t have our own distribution center, the management of that stock into the business and the impact on what that then has as well.
RH: Because of the first lockdown, we went to a fully online implementation. Which was a massive change for the business, both for us and obviously the RELEX project teams. And the guys worked really hard to support us through that. So, it was a good experience in the end.
SH: So, we’ve worked quite closely with RELEX to understand the individual challenges that we have as a business and how they’re presented to us. One thing that’s really worked for us is that partnership and how we can really have those conversations with our consultants or with our customer success managers and really deliver on those goals that we need to make.
One thing that we do really utilize quite frequently is the flexibility of the different solutions. And especially because we have both the space and also the forecast and management side, how we can work with them together to deliver what we need. And that’s been really important to us, especially as we don’t have the largest team. So, we’re really able to use the solutions in kind of really creative ways.
RH: The way that the RELEX solutions are trained out to the retailers has been really beneficial to us as a business and to the teams.