Henderson Group, whose grocery retail brands include SPAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO, ViVOXTRA, and ViVO Essentials in Northern Ireland, supplies over 5,000 ambient lines, 1,200 fresh food lines, and 500 frozen food lines to its retail outlets from three distribution centers. Henderson Group partnered with RELEX in 2018 to optimize supply chain optimisation in their distribution centers and wholesale operations. In 2021, they expanded the partnership into their retail operations to automate demand forecasting, improve planning for seasonality and promotions in stores, and ensure high on-shelf availability.
Paul McAlinden, Category Supply Manager at Henderson Group, took time out at RELEX Live 2022 to talk about their partnership with RELEX, managing disruption during the pandemic, and expanding their capabilities from wholesale to include retail.
My name’s Paul McAlinden. I work for the Henderson Group, which is part of Spar in Northern Ireland.
We’re primarily based in Mallusk. I’m the group category supply manager. We have roughly over 400 stores. And as part of the group, we manage technology retail and wholesale divisions.
I suppose some of the reasons why we chose RELEX were adaptability and the dashboard views, the longer-term view of both forecasts and stock projections that give us greater operational insights to work with our partners, both in logistics and in retail.
The smoothing of the promotions and being able to manage promotions more effectively – it was all about buying better. We are using the pricing of each lane to help us and support us to buy better and strategically improve our purchasing for retail and wholesale.
So, we went live in 2020. And unfortunately, the pandemic hit in March 2020, that led to further disruption. We’ve worked through that. The system supported us with better visibility with longer forecasts. And certainly, we were able to work with our operations in terms of collaboration, in terms of stock holding.
I suppose, longer-term and part of the strategic direction in which Henderson’s is going, we primarily looked at it from a wholesale perspective. We have now recently signed up from a retail perspective, and eventually, we hope to have an end-to-end solution where it’ll be looking from wholesale to retail.