B&Q case study: Warehouse transformation
Retail – Hardlines
London, United Kingdom
Kingfisher plc is Europe’s leading home improvement retail group and the third largest in the world, with over 1,030 stores in eight countries in Europe and Asia. Its main retail brands are B&Q, Castorama, Brico Dépôt and Screwfix. Kingfisher also operates the Koçtaş brand, a 50 percent joint venture in Turkey with the Koç Group, and has a 21 percent interest in Hornbach, Germany’s leading large-format DIY retailer.
Transform its logistics network by using an automated warehouse solution to increase inventory visibility and improve stock availability at its stores.
• JDA Warehouse Management
• JDA Consulting Services
• JDA Education Services
• Reduced costs across the logistics network due to increased efficiency and productivity
• Improved inventory accuracy with real-time information and clear visibility of orders
• Increased product availability at its stores
In the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland, B&Q operates 359 stores with more than 40,000 great-value products all under one roof. B&Q is one of the main retail brands under Kingfisher plc, Europe’s leading home improvement retail group. B&Q strives to offer everything its customers need to successfully achieve their home improvement and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. More than three million customers walk through B&Q’s doors every week.
Transforming the Logistics Network
To support its retail program, B&Q needed to transform its logistics function, replacing its manual, mainly paper-based legacy systems, which were no longer suitable for a business that serves more than 150 million customers a year. This required a flexible warehouse management solution (WMS) to provide real-time information. B&Q wanted to ensure a seamless transition of IT functionality across a network that had been established for 15 years, and needed a solution that would provide it with the ability to:
Manage more than 100,000 stockkeeping units (SKUs) across its sites
• Integrate stock supplied by approximately 600 different vendors
• Improve inventory accuracy with real-time information and clear visibility of orders
• Manage cross-dock and flow through platforms
• Consolidate and pick stock for each store, which is dispatched daily via 500 trailer loads carrying around 45 pallets of products
As part of a comprehensive, multi-year plan, B&Q first rolled out JDA Warehouse Management to five regional consolidation centers that each service between 50 and 100 stores. It is now being rolled out to three distribution centers (DCs).
By implementing JDA Warehouse Management, B&Q is reducing costs across its network of three DCs and five regional consolidation centers, ensuring high stock accuracy and improving product availability at its UK stores.
“The WMS program is the start of our omni-channel transformation, and JDA WMS will form the key foundation to enable this change,” said Jon French, Omni-Channel and WMS Programme Manager, B&Q.
Rolling Out the Solution Across the Network
With JDA Warehouse Management, B&Q has completely eliminated the previous paper-based system, including all vendor paperwork. The project began in 2008, after B&Q undertook a major review of its supply chain and, with the support of JDA consultants, included six months of process mapping across the consolidation centre and DCs. A team of 25 B&Q operatives was recruited to gain a clear understanding of how each site operated and identify potential issues.
By the end of 2008, “strawman” solutions had been examined and during 2009 a “first-build” solution was developed, which was tested at the initial site and successfully implemented within three months. A phased rollout followed across the remaining four consolidation centres, and was completed in January 2012. Each location underwent three months of training prior to go live.
Advanced shipping notification (ASN), covering all pallets for individual stores, has been launched, linking to an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solution. A secure Web portal enables vendors to view purchase orders, create ASNs, build pallets and assemble trailer loads efficiently.
In the autumn of 2012, the solution was implemented in the 800,000 square-foot DC in Swindon, and the rich functionality is being successfully used to manage the wide variety of products, across all activities on the site. The final two DCs will follow in 2013, and at the same time JDA Workforce Management will also be implemented.
Realising the Benefits of Warehouse Efficiency
Once fully rolled out across B&Q’s network, the company anticipates cost savings of approximately €10 million per year, as well as much improved visibility of an accurate stock file in stores. The company also anticipates savings on administration with increased productivity in stores and logistics sites, store inventory accuracy improvements, and that suppliers are now responsible for efficient
inbound shipping. “In a fast-moving and competitive market, ensuring our warehouse operation can efficiently support all our stores is vital,” says Dave King, WMS programme business architect, B&Q. “JDA has provided a flexible WMS solution that can cost-effectively manage a wide range of products and deliver improved accuracy with real-time visibility of stock.”
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.