Steve Malcolm

Inventory and Purchasing Manager | FPS Distribution

"With availability now in the very high 90%’s, the numbers speak for themselves!"

For over 80 years, FPS have strived to provide customers with the most comprehensive product range available in the market place. FPS offer a range of services encompassing everything from distributing aftermarket parts via same day delivery, to providing national retailers with a complete supply chain network solution.

Whilst automotive aftermarket parts remain a core part of the business, their product portfolio now also spans the travel and leisure sector as well as the retail sector. With further growth on the horizon, FPS required a solution which not only had the capabilities to improve the company’s already impressive availability levels but also ensure that working capital is kept under control.

From their national distribution centre located in Sheffield, the FPS fleet supplies a network of 19 branches across the UK as well as a vast range of motor factors and retailers. Given that FPS currently stock over 110,000 product lines, and anticipate adding a further 20,000 lines in the near future, managing the inventory was becoming an increasingly difficult undertaking. “As the company expanded and entered new markets, it was clear that our existing processes lacked the flexibility we required in order to keep up with the company’s aggressive growth strategy,” explains Steve Malcolm, Inventory and Purchasing Manager at FPS.

Maximising customer loyalty

“Ensuring we maintain high levels of availability across our entire range is critical to our success. After all, the loyalty of our customers is completely dependent on our ability to deliver parts as and when our customers require them,” states Steve. However, given that FPS strive to offer products which are simply not available anywhere else in the market, maintaining high levels of availability can be extremely costly, especially for slower moving items.

Thanks to Slimstock, Steve and his planning team are now better positioned to make informed inventory decisions: “With Slim4, all the information we need is on hand.” With greater visibility, FPS have reduced out of stocks by 60% while availability across the entire portfolio is consistently in the very high 90%’s; all whilst optimising the stock turn. Steve explains: “We now have a much clearer picture of our inventory situation and as a result we are able to purchase stock far more strategically.”

Enhanced collaboration

As the business entered new markets and the range continued to expand, Steve and his team faced increasing pressure to manage the growing workload. However, through configuring the dashboard setup to each user’s individual requirements, the planning team are now able to work together far more efficiently. Steve goes on to explains: “With Slim4, I can see what each planner is working on, initiate meaningful and measurable targets and objectives and support them accordingly.”

In addition to improving internal working processes, Slim4 has also helped FPS to work more collaboratively with suppliers. Thanks to Slim4’s purchase forecasting functionality, FPS can now communicate their requirements more efficiently with suppliers. Steve goes on to add: “This in turn has helped improve supplier reliability.”

“With availability now in the very high 90%’s, the numbers speak for themselves,” states Steve. While the addition of new business divisions have added complexity to the company’s inventory management processes, Steve and his team have managed to drive availability while still keeping inventory costs under control. “We are now working with the team at Slimstock to not only achieve our next availability target but also to prepare the business for further growth,” concludes Steve.