August 31, 2005

Going local

David Weinberger comments on the final failure of Denver airport's centralised baggage handling system and makes a general point about the benefits of less centralised approaches. This reminded me of Sainsbury's own problems with an overengineered distribution system that had to be abandoned in favour of something involving more human beings.

But I think Weinberger's point goes way beyond logistics. Big companies used to have an advantage in a world where bandwidth of all kinds was at a premium. Their advantage was that they could be quicker and more efficient at co-ordinating both things and ideas. Not any more. These days, individual citizens have easy access to tons of information and they are getting better and better at spreading it, outside the conventional company systems. Blogging is just one manifestation of this.

I'm wondering if Tesco has ridden the wave in terms of big, and brilliantly systematised, business operations.. and whether Sainsbury's needs to cut its local stores a lot more slack to engage with local people. I wonder if we're now past the peak of people being loyal to megabrands, and are starting to look for something a bit more human. None of the many big name food stores where I live conveys to me any real sense of connection to Islington, beyond the odd charity collection tin.

Adrian wrote here on Sainsbury's localising its potatoes. But maybe they need to go way beyond this...

Posted by Johnnie Moore on August 31, 2005 at 04:30 PM in Logistics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2005

Roger Burnley is new head of supply chain

Sainsbury's has announced that Roger Burnley will take over from Lawrence Christensen as Head of Supply Chain. Christensen was brought out of retirement by Justin King last September on a fixed term contract. Burnley is expected to manage Sainsbury's supply chain side by side with Christensen, until Christensen's contract expires.

Analysts commented in a MorningStar news snap:

"He was well regarded in the industry," said Numis analyst Steve Davies, adding: "It's obviously disappointing that he's moving on."

Investec analyst Ingrid Boon pointed out that Christensen had already stayed on longer than he originally intended. She said the long handover period should ensure there is minimum disruption.

Roger Burnley is 39 and is currently supply chain director at Matalan. He has previously worked at Kingfisher PLC's (KGF.LN) B&Q home improvement chain as well as Wal-Mart Inc's (WMT) Asda unit, the U.K.'s number-two supermarket.

"His experience at Matalan is particularly relevant as Roger was brought in to lead a complete overhaul of the supply chain systems and distribution infrastructure," said the Sainsbury spokeswoman.

"He's quite well respected," said Investec's Boon, "and I believe he was Sainsbury's first choice."

Armed as I am with incomplete information, I have to wonder if about the relevance of Burnley's Matalan experience. Matalan has always seemed to me to be the typical discounter - stocking whatever its Purchasing Department could buy cheap that month with no real consistency. Burnley's Asda experience may be more relevant.

The challenge for Sainsbury's is to get the right goods on the shelves with consistency. Good luck, Mr Burnley.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on August 15, 2005 at 03:45 PM in Logistics, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

Price always comes third or fourth

As Sainsbury's contemplates its slogan change to put an emphasis back on cost cutting, it's refreshing (no pun intended) to read these comments made at the fruit and veg industry's Re:fresh conference:

Mark Newton, md of Florette UK, said: “There’s been a lot of talk from the trade about listening to what consumers want. What they don’t want is produce that’s been value engineered to within an inch of its life.

“Price always comes third or fourth on the list. People talk about freshness and taste. We’re in danger of forgetting that our product is food, and food should taste fantastic.”

Elaine Alexander, chief executive of South African Table Grape Industry, said: “As prices go down, the product becomes more and more devalued in the eyes of consumers.

“We have to use all our resources to try and turn this around. We demean our consumers by only believing they are interested in price.”

John smith of Greyfriars was also on the panel and noted the imbalance between the retailers who are looking at a 22% return and the growers who are struggling to keep up with the retailers' demands. Freshinfo really is a very good read.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 14, 2005 at 01:21 PM in Logistics, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Sainsbury's doing the local thing for three years... who knew?

Having posted about Tesco and Asda's excellent work on the local new potato front and urged Sainsbury's to "keep up," I was chastened to read this article in Freshinfo:

Sainsbury’s is continuing its campaign to bring locally grown new potatoes into its stores in Cornwall.

Local farmers will be delivering fresh potatoes into selected stores within hours of them being harvested, the retailer claimed, keeping food miles to a minimum.

Potatoes will be available in the store for a limited period offering Sainsbury’s shoppers an opportunity to taste locally grown produce fresh from the field.

In many areas the harvesting of the potatoes is beginning at 5.00 in the morning with the potatoes being delivered to the store by 7.00.

Well done, Sainsbury's!

I am genuinely delighted about this scheme, so I am not being churlish when I ask this question: why is our favourite supermarket not making more of this story? From freshinfo (emphasis mine):

This is the third year that Sainsbury’s, Greenvale AP and Cornish growers have collaborated in this scheme in what is fast becoming a popular UK wide initiative.

This year 29 stores across the UK from Cornwall to Edinburgh will be taking part in the scheme, a large increase on the 13 stores in 2004.

John Maylam, senior produce buyer, said: “Sainsbury’s were the first major retailer to run a scheme of this nature across the UK."

Freddie and I spoke about this recently. Our conclusion: JS does some really great stuff, but it hides its light under a bushel.

Action points - one for Sainsbury's, the rest for you:

For Sainsbury's: look at all the really great stuff you do that goes unpublicised, then figure out how to tell those stories, rather than just giving us lowest common denominator, me-too, marketing bumpf.

For the rest of us: print this post or the freshinfo article, then take it into your local Sainsbury's and ask "is this store part of the Sainsbury's new potato scheme?" If it is, buy some of those new potatoes, eat them, perhaps with a little butter or in a nice salad, then tell all your friends how good they are. Let us know too, in the comments, or on your blog.

If you have a digital camera, feel free to send us pictures or post them on your own blog: of the potatoes, of the point of sale material or of any other advertising for the scheme. If Sainsbury's aren't going to publicise this properly, then we may as well pitch in.

And if your store is not included in the scheme, ask the manager to get his/her store included, quick smart.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 11, 2005 at 09:53 AM in Food, Logistics, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2005

New potatoes, locally grown

In light of comments here yesterday about market demand for local goods, a couple of recent stories about new potatoes, from fruit and veg industry site freshinfo, are eye openers.

Can you guess which of the supermarkets has a local branding initiative, including deliveries direct from grower to local store, plus point of sale material and promotional literature?

Mark Rowe is the first grower of the season to come on stream with more than 700 acres of tubers under production near Helston, Cornwall. He is making direct deliveries into the Helston store and the Chepstow RDC this week, which supplies the whole of south-west England.

And can you guess which of the supermarkets claimed victory in the race to get Pembrokeshire new potatoes into Welsh stores last week:

Karen Todd, local sourcing manager, said: "Our dedicated suppliers, Puffin, have done an excellent job in getting the crop ready and into store ahead of time.

“Local sourcing makes good business sense. Not only does it mean we can reduce the number of miles food has to travel before it reaches our stores, but it also enables customers to support produce from their local community.

We have seen dramatic uplifts in sales as more and more customers buy into local produce, which is also great news for farmers.”

Did you guess right? Give yourself a pat on the back if you answered Tesco and Asda.

It's one thing for Sainsbury's to be beaten on food by Waitrose; it's quite another to watch Tesco and Asda adopting local food. Neither of those stores would bother to stock local goods without compelling reasons. Both stores have learned that local produce is good for the farmers, it's good for the environment, the customers love it and sales increase.

Keep up, Sainsbury's.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 8, 2005 at 07:21 PM in Food, Logistics, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack