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Manor’s three-day event

A £1.6m display roll-out for a leading retailer comes with a particular set of logistical issues, particularly as it has to be completed over just three days. RAC reports

When it comes to supermarket refurbishment deadlines there will always be an issue to ensure there is minimum impact on the customer and, ultimately, sales.

So when it came to completing a £1.6m shelving and merchandise roll-out across more than 800 UK stores there had to be serious consideration given to the project’s logistics. And with all this set to be completed within three days, timings were particularly tight.

Taking on the challenge was Manor Refrigerated Cabinets, which provides retailers with display solutions for produce and chilled foods.

The national roll-out consisted of a diverse range of shelving and merchandise accessories for refrigerated produce.

By utilising its cabinet database, Manor designed the shelves and merchandise accessories to fit the retailer’s specific range of refrigerated cabinets.

To meet the short time-frame, the products were manufactured both in-house by Manor and by approved sub-contractors.

The project came about through the retailer’s policy of continual improvement and development of its products in response to customer trends, according to Manor.

Pilot stores would be selected and additional equipment identified, sourced and trialled. If the pilots proved successful, Manor would then be required to complete a tender for the roll-out.

Following the pilot store trials, the customer looked to roll out the required equipment to enable a coordinated step-change across
the estate.

Michael Tucker, managing director at Manor, said: “Completing a store roll-out of this magnitude to such a strict time schedule required the highest level of project management skills.

It was also necessary to employ our knowledge of the refrigerated retail cabinet market using our extensive database, which encompasses detailed information covering the past 15 years.

It was that intelligence, combined with our planning and organisational skills which enabled us to successfully fulfil this contract.”

To ensure the planning process went fully to schedule, each roll-out had a number of distinct stages in its planning.

Great expectations

Initially, at the quotation stage, the information regarding the materials required for each store is generic with little full cabinet or product detail.

Once the order is received a full schedule is generated, showing each store that needs products, the specific products, for example shelves are then defined to specific cabinet types and manufacturing part numbers.

The final roll-out delivery date would be known and working backwards from this date a manufacturing plan was generated covering all stages of the supply chain.

Progress against this plan would be monitored on a daily basis, with close liaison with the shipping company during the final production week to ensure that all products were grouped and labelled as necessary.

To ensure the expectations of the client are met Manor holds regular client conference calls and progress update meetings, taking into account any new developments. Once deliveries have been made, proof of delivery is provided to the client.

Mr Tucker said: “The key challenge with this type of roll-out is the parallel process of organising the supply chain of materials, the production plan while the missing product detail (as much as 20 per cent) is being resolved.

Often the biggest problem is the final labelling from the carriers, as this is only available a few days prior to their collection.”

To undertake a project of this size, Manor is able to call upon a large database of component definition that it has built up over the years. Mr Tucker said: “All of our internal design and manufacturing systems are integrated allowing Manor to quickly convert CAD models and drawings into manufacturing programmes and information.

“While the client can identify its generic need, our experience and database is key to identifying the specific components required to fit the variety of cabinet manufacturer’s equipment in their stores.

Previous roll-out deliveries meant that the team understood the expectations of the client and the immovable deadline. As a consequence an internal mixed function team was created to process this project.”

As with any project of this scale, there were several key issues to take into account and careful consideration given to how they should be managed.

The first issue was to clearly define the scope of the project in terms of what, when and where had to be delivered. In this process it was important to identify what was unknown and agree as a team (including the client) when these details needed to be finalised, according to Mr Tucker.

“The project plan had to be kept up to date as the individual store and scope changed as more information became available. It was important that this project was separated from the normal day to day business with regular monitoring.

“This project had to be initiated very quickly and there was no time for complacency.  It was important to keep the task and milestones to time, as a delay in one section can rarely be made up downstream.

The approach of the team, both internally and towards the client, was key to this type of project delivery.” 

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