Homebase – Where Collaboration Delivers
Homebase is the UK’s most readily recognised retail brands. As one of the largest home improvement retailers in the country the company sells over 30,000 products across its DIY & decorating and home & garden ranges, and has a growing internet offering. The company serves over 70 million customers a year through its network of around 350 large, out-of-town stores.
Faced with the dual challenge of taking £20m worth of inventory out of its supply chain and driving productivity improvements across its distribution network, DIY retailer, Homebase leveraged its collaborative relationship with UTL to deliver on its objectives
Working closely with UTL Homebase has made significant reductions to stock holdings, improved productivity within the supply chain, cut costs and radically restructured its distribution centre network to bring the financial benefits sought – and at the same time, the company has improved on-shelf availability in store
Homebase now need less warehouse space and because UTL has been flexible in being able to accommodate additional ranges from other DCs they were able to rationalise their network infrastructure. UTL operates the National Import Centre (NIC) for Homebase at a shared user facility in Cowley, Oxford, on a contract that has been in place since early 2006.
As a large proportion of the retailer’s product range is sourced from overseas, the smooth and efficient running of the facility is critical to the trading performance of the company. ‘Lean thinking’ applied through the ‘Unipart Way’ provided a sound methodology for delivering operational improvement by taking out waste from processes, whether it be time or unnecessary movement, to create a highly efficient warehouse operation capable of maximising on-shelf availability across the stores network, at the lowest cost.
UTL’s role has grown substantially over the years and we are now responsible for between 30 – 40 per cent of the volume of goods going to Homebase stores. The footprint of the NIC has increased from 160,000 sq. ft. to 440,000 sq. ft.
Project Bentley’, the transfer of the pots and tiles ranges to the Cowley facility, has benefited the Homebase. Absorbing these ranges into the Cowley operation demonstrated great flexibility, without any major increases in space and cost. Productivity and efficiency of the operation was maintained throughout, and the TUPE transfer was ran extremely smoothly and competently. But importantly, the service to stores was seamless.
Homebase has also benefited from UTL’s analytical approach to tackling issues around product damage in the ‘pots and tiles’ supply chain. UTL looked at how the product was being brought in from Turkey and the Far East, working with a cross functional team at Homebase to understand where the losses were occurring. We made interventions to address the issues including the development of better packaging solutions from factory to store. We also paid close attention to the way the product was handled at the DC and in store. Homebase has seen a 30 per cent reduction in damage on those products.
Beyond the warehouse environment, UTL has been working with Homebase on using the ‘Unipart Way’ to help retail stores improve efficiencies, from receipt of goods through to the shelf edge. Both companies operate a true partnership with a great level of understanding between the two businesses – both are committed to continuous improvement, cost reduction and a ‘lean’ approach,’