Peter Surtees, European supply chain director of manufacturing giant Kimberley-Clark, explained his company's policies for supply chain success as implemented overseas and hailed the UK's new multibillion-dollar deep-sea port as a game changing opportunity for innovation. Surtees described the success of Project Sphinx, a collaborative initiative led by Kimberley-Clark, in which seven leading brands (including Heinz, Nestle and Kelloggs) are sharing warehousing and distribution, achieving annual cost savings in six figures for Kimberley-Clark alone.
Although Kimberley-Clark has been highly successful in implementing innovative collaboration projects in Europe, notably France and Holland, Surtees has not attempted to replicate the model in the UK, believing outdated infrastructure and to some extent, inflexible 3PL thinking, to be serious barriers to success. He made it plain that the model which the new port presented altered the UK business model saying:
"Our most recent collaboration project is hugely complex but highly successful for all brands involved. Key elements have been VMI [vendor managed inventory] replenishment, the right location close to shared markets and a willingness to think outside of traditional supply chain models both on the part of the manufacturers and the 3PL's. London Gateway is a fantastic proposition and a perfect opportunity to design collaborative supply chains. It's not until you get here that you realize the scale of both the project and the opportunity. I'm really excited by the possibilities it offers.
"London Gateway is definitely the right location to achieve the Holy Grail both for manufacturers and retailers, namely improved on shelf availability with lower costs due to a shorter supply chain."
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