The growth of 'supply chain' divisions as discrete departments within food businesses has not necessarily been a positive move, according to Asda's new chief operating officer.
Speaking at the CIES food business forum in Barcelona last month, Dave Cheesewright said that logistics professionals with little or no experience of store operations or the buying function of a food retail business were not best placed to manage the supply chain.
A year spent working at Wal-Mart Canada, where "virtually everyone" in the logistics function had either managed a store or worked in purchasing, had taught him how crucial an understanding of these roles were to running a truly end-to-end supply chain, said Cheesewright. "The growth of supply chain as a separate entity is not necessarily a good thing. In Canada, there's only one profit and loss account at head office. The buyer can't blame the supply chain guys for poor availability."
When he first arrived in Canada, he wanted to march in and change everything, said Cheesewright. "They had long lead times, no space flexing to match facings with rate of sale, and no central control of store ordering. Pretty much anyone could place an order. I thought Asda did everything better. Yet their availability was two full percentage points better than Asda's."