Ultra Finishing Mike Duggleby

Mike Duggleby

COO | Ultra Finishing

"Slim4 has helped us take full control over our new product introduction process. Furthermore, our supply chain team can take complete ownership over driving improvements across their specific focus area. As a result, our turnover is growing at a rate of between 5 to 10% year on year."

Over the last 35 years we Ultra Finishing has gained a wealth of experience supplying the leading names in bathrooms. In order to help improve upon the businesses already impressive reputation for providing customers with a truly exceptional level of customer satisfaction, Ultra Finishing joined forces with Slimstock in 2014.

Dedicated to offering an unrivalled level of product quality and customer service, Ultra Finishing has set the standard in bathrooms suites, furniture and accessories for over 35 years. As a proud member of the prestigious “Made in Britain” scheme, the bathroom specialist is unique in that the majority of their extensive range is manufactured at one of the business’ partly, or wholly owned factories.

Following the successful implementation of Slimstock’s inventory optimisation solution, Slim4, in 2014 the manufacturer’s commitment to driving the customer experience through improving availability remains as strong as ever.

Underpinning the six-sigma philosophy

As a business that is always looking for ways to refine and perfect their processes to continuously improve customer satisfaction, the decision to implement Slim4 was made in line with a business-wide six-sigma project. As highlighted by Mike Duggleby, chief operating officer at Ultra Finishing: “The introduction of Slim4 marked a key milestone in our optimisation journey.”

With an initial focus on providing greater visibility over the business’ distribution centre, Ultra Finishing has utilised Slim4 to adopt a far more collaborative approach to inventory management. Using the insights provided by Slim4, the supply chain team can now work with other departments to maximise the success of supply chain initiatives. Mike goes on to add: “With this additional visibility we can now ensure we work with suppliers in the right way. Not only can we provide them with a clearer picture of our future inventory requirements, but we now work with supply chain partners to implement real efficiency improvements. As a result, supplier reliability has markedly increased.”

Complete ownership

Focused on standardising inventory management processes, Mike outlines the challenges his team faced: “In the past, we relied upon cumbersome spreadsheets in combination with our legacy ERP system to manage the inventory. However, given that only a small number of people understood the intricacies of this process, it could not be scaled as our business grew.”

In addition to implementing the right technology, Mike understood the importance of enriching the knowledge and skills of his team. “Since working with Slimstock, a real emphasis has been placed upon upskilling our people. As a result, every member of our supply chain team can take complete ownership over driving improvements across their specific focus area,” adds Mike.

Visibility over demand

With a diverse customer base and a broad mix of local and global suppliers, Mike and his team have to anticipate demand up to 12 months in advance to ensure suppliers are able to fulfil their inventory requirements. By automatically updating forecasts in line with evolving demand and then realigning inventory levels accordingly, Slim4 provides Ultra Finishing with a powerful tool for creating robust long-range forecasts.

Mike explains: “Thanks to the granular level of insight provided by Slim4, we can easily identify for which products we should invest in insurance inventory. As a result, we are now much better positioned to mitigate the risk of stock-outs.”

Continuous optimisation

With an ever-growing assortment, around 15% of the product range is systematically updated each year. “Our turnover is growing at a rate of between 5 to 10% year on year and new product introductions contribute heavily to this. By enabling us to refine forecasts very early on and thus take appropriate action to ensure we are able to satisfy customer demand, Slim4 has helped us take full control over our new product introduction process.”

Mike goes on to explain how Slim4 helps his team manage products at the end of the product lifecycle: “With just a click of a button we can easily see where we need to take action to sell through the remaining stock. As a result, the risk of obsolescence is minimised.”

Happy with the results so far, the team at Ultra Finishing are now in the process of rolling Slim4 out across other elements of their complex operation. “Our ultimate goal is to align the entire chain. With the combination of Slimstock’s expert team coupled with their ever-advancing technology, I have no doubt that we are working with the right partner to help us achieve our full potential,” concludes Mike.