Case study: Group of Butchers 
From Excel to excellence at Group of Butchers



forecast accuracy improvement



reduction in stock levels

Group of Butchers supplies high-quality, traditionally prepared meat products, ready meals, vegetarian products, and soups and salads to all major supermarkets in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. 

Group of Butchers has grown rapidly through acquisition and autonomous growth – a strategy that has propelled the company to become a 800 million Euro operation.  

Such growth brings challenges. Since 2018, the group has added 12 production sites, which adds a supply chain challenge, because each acquisition comes with their own history, IT systems, and processes, so integrating them into a greater supply chain can be complex. 

Now, with 17 production sites and two distribution centers across the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, a finely tuned supply chain is a must. The rapid expansion was starting to catch up with the company’s existing systems and processes, so Group of Butchers turned to RELEX implementation partner Supply Chain Company for help and advice. 

Spreadsheets reaching the end of the road 

As the business scaled, Group of Butchers outgrew their planning capabilities. Group of Butchers did their forecasting and replenishment planning in spreadsheets, which was complicated. With a limited number of people on the team that fully understood how it all worked, they needed a solution that could support their planning needs and growth strategy. 

In 2019, they contacted RELEX partner Supply Chain Company to explore how to evolve Group of Butchers’ supply chain processes and systems and enable best-in-class delivery performance with minimum waste. 

Following a two-day workshop to map the current processes and physical flows, Supply Chain Company prepared a list of software vendors for evaluation. When the software selection phase ended, the entire project team had come to the same conclusion. 

“We needed a supply chain planning solution, not a new ERP system. RELEX ticked all the boxes. Coming from an spreadsheet background, the pivot-like interface from RELEX was attractive. We didn’t have to give up the flexibility we were used to with spreadsheets. We also liked the modularity of the RELEX application suite, which allowed us to implement at our own pace,” said Bart Kroot, Supply Chain Manager. 

“RELEX displayed a deep understanding of our business and industry, and we felt they were the type of company that would go the extra mile to support us. To us, RELEX is not just a software vendor. They are a company we can rely on as trusted advisors for our supply chain challenges.” 

Time for change 

The distribution center in Boxtel is the hub of the company’s physical supply chain and serves as the base for the demand planners that orchestrate it. The project team started with demand forecasting, which was critical to the subsequent production planning implementation. 

The company worked with a 1-2 week forecast, calculated in spreadsheets as a simple average of the last 10 weeks of sales with the highest and lowest values removed. This was replaced by an automated, rolling eight-week forecast using RELEX.  The forecast quality improved immediately, and after just four weeks of shadowing, the team was ready to turn off the old spreadsheets. 

Kroot explains, “RELEX provides much better support for our forecasting process. Our two demand planners are more effective and work more closely with sales and marketing to plan for sales promotions and product phase-ins and phase-outs. RELEX has also given them the visibility they need to spot and address any potential stock and shelf-life issues before they become a problem.” 

With some production lead times as long as seven days, forward visibility is critical to managing shelf-life for sensitive meat products. The production planning model was set up and tested in the RELEX supply chain optimization solution, taking full advantage of the improved forecast accuracy and the longer planning horizon in the new demand planning solution. 

The four manufacturing sites included in the initial rollout now receive weekly updates of their production requirements for the next eight weeks. And while detailed scheduling remains a local responsibility, the more stable and forward-looking weekly production plan has made life much easier at the production sites. 

With so many acquisitions, and an equal number of ERP installations and locally maintained data sources, it would take quite an effort to ensure master data consistency. “We had situations where two production sites used the same product ID for completely different items. RELEX knows how to address data inconsistencies, and they could suggest a pragmatic solution. We now have a planning system that links our entire supply chain together,” said Kroot. 

Better forecasts equal better business 

Group of Butchers is live with RELEX across five production sites and the central warehouse in Boxtel. Forecast accuracy is up by almost 10%, including a significant improvement on the individual item level. 

The RELEX inventory optimization capabilities have provided improvements in stock levels and delivery performance, with stock levels 5-10% lower. “We’re cutting stock levels with maintained delivery performance. We’re delighted with these results,” said Kroot. 

Next up, Group of Butchers will roll out RELEX to all remaining factories and fully eradicate spreadsheets.