The Co-operative is targeting a 2% improvement in availability with the move to central store replenishment, according to David Mockford, director of food retail operations at the Co-operative.
Speaking at the IGD’s Convenience Retailing 2011 conference last week, Mockford said the roll out will be completed in 2012.
Stores currently influence their own orders but with one central team pushing out products to stores, the Co-operative can improve its promotional forecasts and maximise on seasonal and events, he said.
The retailer, which operates 2,800 stores and employs 80,000 people, is also introducing optimised store scheduling. Mockford said the move was a fundamental shift for the business.
“Previously we have given store managers responsibility but with no guidance,” he said. Mockford reported the company has measured the time taken for every single task that happens in the convenience store and created a staff schedule for managers that provides the right number of hours to deliver against the service it requires.
Mockford said the company has invested in convenience management with an extra 1,200 FTEs introduced to create a consistent structure across stores.
“At key trading periods – weekends and evenings – we were at our weakest,” he revealed.
In terms of training and development, a team of 250 staff support the stores, delivering training on a day to day basis; plus performance reviews, he said.
Mockford reported 300 staff have completed a leadership development programme and the results from their stores were better than in the existing estate.
Project Dragon – a field team of 215 operations managers – is being launched in 2012. Field teams will be in-store more often, coaching staff and listening to the teams, said Mockford. A computer-based training programme called Citrus is also being introduced.
Fresh foods will be a focus for NPD in 2012, he said. Stores hold twice daily huddles and refresh stores on fresh, Mockford told delegates. Going forward, the business would adopt a zero tolerance policy on supplier quality to depots, he added.
Mockford said the Co-operative will also be exploring how it can cross sell across its diverse businesses including food, pharmacy and banking in future and capitalise on the members’ data it holds.
Mockford said that in spite of challenging external factors, the convenience sector continues to grow.
“When times are tough, that’s a really great opportunity for businesses to prosper, especially businesses that are agile and put the customer at the heart of everything they do,” he said.