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JJ Food Service shares rapid roll out success

By Retail Technology | Friday October 11 2013

Early gains with latest supply chain technology to hit UK shores attracts a wide variety of retailers to hear first UK user share its initial implementation experiences

Omnichannel bulk food retailer JJ Food Service has rolled out supply chain planning and optimisation systems from Relex in record time and has seen strong results even within the pilot period.

Having announced the deal in June, the Enfield-based company took just four and a half months to go from the drawing board to being fully operational with its entire supply chain operation running on the system.

Assessing the situation at the end of its three-month pilot, the company had also already seen sharp cuts in inventory levels and increased availability. Its buying team’s workload has dropped 25% in a matter of weeks and even greater gains are anticipated in coming months.

Sharing best-practice project experiences

Mushtaque Ahmed, JJ Food Service chief operating officer, this week told invited attendees of a Relex reception hosted at the Finnish Ambassador’s residence in London that the company originally planed to run a three-month pilot with just three buyers.

“But, well before the end of those three months, we’ve had all of our buyers, all of our locations, all of our producers and all of our products running on Relex,” he said.

Ahmed shared the fact that the company, whose customers include hospitality and public sector local authority organisations, had a particular issue with slow moving lines falling off its buyers’ radar. “Thanks to the new system we’ve cleaned out a lot of non-performing lines,” he said. 

“Before the pilot was complete we’d already cut our inventory by around 15% across the board and we’re seeing impressive improvements in availability, in some cases rising by more than 10% and we expect further improvements.”

Managing multichannel complexity

The audience, which was made up of supply chain retail management from the hospitality, convenience, grocery and fashion sectors, was also keen to know how the Relex system managed demand from multiple channels, as JJ Food offers customers a number of ways to buy. 

“Our buying is totally centralised,” Ahmed explained. “But it doesn’t matter where the order is coming from – over the phone, through our self-service portal, EDI [electronic data interchange] – all that matters is when the customer wants it. We can be demand driven because the whole system is automated.”

Mikko Kärkkäinen, Relex chief executive, who was also on hand to answer audience questions, added: “Users can gain extra control over things like multichannel orders via a heuristics rule. And the system can factor in any possible logical level, down to and beyond store level, because of the in-memory master data engine.”

Ahmed added that JJ Food Service is already running the system independently of Relex, admitting that the roll out has changed the way he views software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems. He also said the company’s wider IT strategy is likely to change to reflect this.

Tommi Ylinen, Relex head of UK operations, added that JJ Food Service’s approach was a major factor in the speed of the roll out. “We generally reckon that a company will be ready to go to full roll out by the end of a two to three month pilot, but JJ Food Service broke new ground by pulling their entire operations into our systems before the end of the pilot phase,” he concluded. “It went incredibly smoothly.”

JJ Food Service has now signed an ongoing user agreement with Relex.

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