A clutch of blue chip manufacturers including Tropicana, Kraft and Kerrygold have slashed lead times and shipping costs for transporting goods to Northern Ireland using a new daily delivery service from Culina Logistics.
Previously, manufacturers holding stock at Culina depots were transporting goods on from these sites to a depot in the north of England that was consolidating goods going to Northern Ireland, said Culina supply chain development manager Andy Newnes.
"It was very inefficient. Manufacturers were effectively having goods picked twice from two different consolidators, which was costing a fortune and damaging stock through double handling."
The new service enables manufacturers holding stock at Culina sites in Milton Keynes, Market Drayton and Higher Heath in Shropshire to cut out the middleman and reduce lead times to customers like Tesco and Musgrave by several hours, he said.
"There are several key benefits for customers, including significant cost saving due to direct delivery, removal of double handling to reduce potential stock damage and improvements to on-time deliveries."
A 24-hour customer care centre, day one ordering for day two delivery and online data providing visibility of order receipt through to delivery are also part of the service, which is now being used by 18 suppliers.
Culina, which recently picked up a contract to provide storage and distribution services for luxury desserts maker Gü, acknowledged that factory gate pricing initiatives by the supermarkets could hit volumes going through its network.
But the company is viewing it as an opportunity rather than a threat, said commercial director Dale Fiddy.
"It is possible that we could lose critical mass from manufacturing clients, but retailers also want to work with high quality logistics providers on their primary distribution projects, so we could pick up business from them instead.
"We've been in dialogue about this with retailers including Tesco for some time."Wincanton both sides of factory gate