Costa Express, Costa Coffee’s chain of on-the-go self-service machines, implemented RELEX to connect forecasting and replenishment for their sites and distribution centers. Tom Rice, Costa Express’ Logistics Manager during the final stages of the implementation, shares insights about the challenges that come with rapid growth, why Costa selected RELEX, and the positive impacts an end-to-end supply chain has had on their forecast accuracy and availability. For more information about Costa Express’ partnership with RELEX, read the press release.
I’m Tom Rice, the logistics manager for Costa Express. I’m responsible for 11,000 machines across the whole of the UK and Ireland.
Costa is a market leader and has been for the last 11 years, with a growing international market. As Costa continued to grow, expanding internationally and bringing out new concession types, it was clear that our current operating model wasn’t going to work.
The goal for Costa was to create an end-to-end supply chain, linking forecasting out to our sites with demand into our warehouse. Transparency and visibility are absolutely critical, especially in today’s modern society with challenging supply chains. And this is where RELEX stepped in and became a key partner with us, moving away from traditional models of forecasting with Excel and using ERP systems that aren’t integrated to knit data together.
Where RELEX really stood out during the tender process was the on-the-go application. Other suppliers offer this as a bolt-on, but with RELEX, it’s an off-the-shelf solution. And with over 300 field-based engineers, this was an absolute must-have for Costa.
The other area where RELEX stood out during the tender process was the agility and flexibility of the system. It’s by no means bespoke, but we can make changes on the day extremely quickly to cope with any changes in the market. And with modules down the line that we’ve worked together on collaboratively, it was very clear to us that RELEX was the best place for Costa.
I joined Costa just as phase one of RELEX was going live. This was replenishment to our sites. Phase two, which was replenishment to our distribution centers, took around eight months. The most challenging thing about this was it was implemented during COVID-19, which I’m sure was difficult for everybody.
The most impressive thing about this whole process was that number one, we did it during COVID but, number two was RELEX’s ability to manage our ever-changing estate, dealing with complexity that nobody had ever experienced before.
Some of the benefits that we’ve realized already are a reduction in our stock variance, increased availability—which was really impressive during the very challenging Q4 last year—and a 12% increase in forecast accuracy, up to 90%. But it is RELEX’s ability to make changes quickly and get us out of trouble when we’ve had issues with stock that has been the biggest benefit.
RELEX is a key partner for Costa Express. We work collaboratively on our long-range plans, and RELEX will be a huge part of our efficiency for growth targets for 2022 and beyond.