Edwin Brekelmans

Supply chain manager | Spar

"Thanks to Slim4, we consistently achieve service levels in excess of 99.5%."

Every day, Spar supplies groceries, fresh and frozen foods to around 500 stores across the Netherlands. With help from Slim4, their planning department has been able to improve the service level of items under their control to 99.5%.

In addition, the stock turn in Spar’s two Dutch distribution centres has also increased. Supply Chain Manager, Edwin Brekelmans adds; “All these results will be improved even further once we start sharing the forecast data from Slim4 with our suppliers.”

With around 500 stores, Spar plays a pivotal role in many neighbourhoods and villages across the Netherlands. As a result, maintaining high on-shelf availability across their range of quality products is of the upmost of importance, especially for fresh items within their assortment. Given the constantly evolving product range, achieving these goals was a real challenge. Edwin Brekelmans explains; “Our range currently encompasses 5,500 grocery items, 1,000 fresh items, and 500 frozen food items. However, in order to better satisfy the needs of our customers, we decided to take our inventory management to the next level.”

Seamless integration between Slim4 & Distretail

The first step of the inventory optimisation project was to centralise all of the inventory management teams which was soon followed by the purchase of Slim4. “In the past, we used the forecasting module within our existing ERP, DistRetail, as well as the knowledge of our ordering teams in the DCs. However, we are always looking for ways to improve and as a result we started looking for a tool that could
help us increase our service level and stock turns whilst simultaneously decreasing waste. After looking at a number of options, Slim4 became the obvious choice. Thanks to the support from the people at Slimstock, the implementation was completed on time and within budget.”

Brekelmans was particularly impressed by Slim4’s capability to forecast demand of fresh groceries on a daily basis. “On Wednesdays, for example, the demand for salads is different from Mondays, especially around Easter. Slim4 takes this into account and as a result, we now have better control over item perishability and waste,” highlights Brekelmans. To further support the optimisation process, Spar will also use the EOQformula. With this method Spar will be able to calculate the optimal economical order quantity based on the handling costs, waste costs, and the capacity of the DCs amongst a number of other factors.

Increased service level & stock turn

The results are undeniable; Spar is now able to consistently provide stores with service levels in excess of 99.5%. Prior to the installation, Spar was conscious that they were achieving below this level. Furthermore, the stock turn and working capital have also both improved considerably. “All these results will be improved even further once we start sharing the forecast data from Slim4 with our suppliers,” says Brekelmans.

From buyers to inventory managers

Another advantage of Slim4 is that the 5 planners can now focus more of their time on articles which require extra attention such as fresh groceries and items where the demand is highly dependent upon the weather. “Our planning team now has access to more accurate data and thus is better prepared to work with our category managers. Furthermore, our planners also have more time to focus on agreements with suppliers and logistic service providers.” Brekelmans concludes; “We no longer call them buyers, but inventory managers instead”