Act now on Olympics deadline or face supply crisis: logistics experts

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Diver Tom Daley performs the first dive at the Aquatics Centre, developed for the London Olympics
Diver Tom Daley performs the first dive at the Aquatics Centre, developed for the London Olympics

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The food industry is entering a crucial planning period with the 2012 London Olympics now a year away and unless it takes action now availability will suffer, according to logistics experts.

General Mills had launched a major project focusing on the issue and dedicated substantial amounts of staff to it, said David Howorth, supply chain director for the global food manufacturer. "There will be 23M additional [consumer] journeys into London. We have just started to put a cross-functional team together to look at issues such as demand and consumption."

There was also an issue surrounding maintaining adequate levels of staffing in the supply chain at crucial periods, added Howorth. "How do you get our employees into work with 23m additional journeys taking place? There are not too many answers and we need to be thinking about this quickly."

Night-time deliveries

Grappling with promotional phasing and TV advertising would be another major challenge, he said. In addition, it was important to consider how to manage stock out of the system as the Olympics wound up. Asda distribution director Ian Stansfield said: "It must be viewed as a 12-month event."

The industry is negotiating with the local authorities to secure permission for night-time deliveries in order to hit targets. "We are still waiting to hear from Transport for London about road closures [to re-route traffic],"​ added Howorth. "That needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later."

Lindsay Hazlehurst, Wincanton development director, said: "We are preparing solutions for customers in this area at the moment. We are looking at any way possible to get our fleet in and out of London. For a limited amount of time, the restraint required will be phenomenal."

Stansfield said: "We have teams across the trade working through how we optimise retail supply and the challenges from the transport point of view. One of the biggest challenges is getting the forecasting right."

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