Greencore Group is a leading international producer of prepared foods based in Dublin, Ireland, with 22 manufacturing sites across the United Kingdom and the United States. Greencore’s global annualised sales, including its US operations, amount to more than £1.2 billion a year.
In 2011, Greencore acquired convenience food supplier Uniq Prepared Foods. Uniq derived more than half its revenue from supplying leading retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S), with the Northampton site being lead supplier for sandwiches and wraps. Jenny Thompson, commercial executive for Greencore Northampton, says: “Previously, we used Microsoft Excel reports to monitor sales performance, which involved complex pivot tables and took hours of work to produce. We were able to deliver only weekly reporting from the M&S electronic point of sale (EPOS) system on key performance indicators”.
She continues: “As a result, we were often slow to react if a particular product wasn’t selling well in a particular store. We had no real-time information on which were the best-selling lines, so stores in some areas ran out of stock and in others they had to throw away food.”
Greencore Northampton saw an opportunity to deploy business discovery software for daily and weekly reporting on sales performance. The aim was to reduce waste and improve the availability of sandwiches and wraps at M&S stores in the UK. Previously, some members of the commercial team at Greencore Northampton were aware of traditional business intelligence systems such as Cognos. The team organised a meeting with IT specialist Informance who immediately understood Greencore’s business needs as it had experience in deploying QlikView for other manufacturing organisations.
Jenny Thompson says: “We wanted to provide our team with accurate business intelligence and we needed a solution to be delivered quickly. We rapidly formed the view that QlikView was the top business discovery solution for our industry, especially after seeing a demonstration at one of Informance’s QlikView customers; Harboro Rubber.”
Significantly, Informance delivered its first application for testing and review within days of the initial decision to go ahead, which gave Greencore Northampton the confidence that it was making the right choice. It also provided fully certified training services for users and super users. The initial project supported the commercial team with the replication of the existing Excel weekly reports and analysis completed on this data. Once the power of QlikView was outlined, the second stage involved moving the performance management of a relatively small segment of the category – wraps.
Having gone live with QlikView in April 2012, Jenny is highly impressed with the measurable results so far which have included: a not insignificant increase in incremental sales for M&S, a 20 per cent increase in on-shelf availability and a 3 per cent reduction in waste.
Jenny says: “Availability of wraps increased dramatically, which in-turn means improved sales and lower waste for M&S. The improvement is due to QlikView and the ease of accessing the data,” she continues: “There will always be some waste with convenience food, but the reduction figure speaks for itself. None of this would be possible without the ability to access the real-time data in an easy-to-use format. We expect return on our investment within a year.”
QlikView has made the creation of daily reporting on sales of wraps at M&S faster, easier, and more flexible. Jenny says: “Accurate decisions can be made quickly because all the data is available within a day in near real-time from a single source. We’re seeing some fantastic results from QlikView already. Each member of the commercial team can now easily access information on a self-service basis – that wasn’t possible before.”
Greencore Northampton’s finance team has just gone live with an analysis and reporting dashboard using QlikView. Integration of sales and financial dashboards will enable the commercial team to incorporate financial data into its sales performance figures, and help the finance team analyse profitability more effectively. Jenny says: “With data going as far back as 2006, we can model and trend data in a way we’ve never been able to before.” She continues: “The inclusion of historical data offers us greater insight, and in spite of the volume of information QlikView has to process, we know the technology is up to the challenge.”
QlikView is providing Greencore Northampton with near real-time analysis of EPOS data from M&S stores with daily and weekly reporting on product sales and wastage. This data is used to support M&S by getting the correct products and stock levels in the right stores. The secondary benefit internally is helping the commercial and executive teams to access daily and weekly data through self-service reporting tools in QlikView.
As a power user of QlikView at Greencore Northampton, Jenny is impressed with the ability of the solution to extract data from any system. Jenny concludes: “QlikView has changed my working life. If I want to know why a product isn’t selling, I can get the answer in seconds instead of waiting hours. Other team members are now also less reliant on me to produce reports because they can do it themselves.”