Bunzl Catering Supplies (BCS) is a division of Bunzl Plc, an £8.58bn distribution services group, supplying internationally sourced products to businesses across thirty countries and five continents. The business is the leading distributor of disposables, packaging and hygiene products to the catering industry, delivering to consumer demand across both public and private sectors, from small cafes to health trusts and national restaurant chains. 

BCS prides itself on its fast, efficient and reliable delivery, which is essential for keeping customers supplied on a regular 48-hour cycle and that places a heavy emphasis on the strategic placement and operational performance of the nationwide network of warehouses that supports the business. Maintaining a network balance, where all postcodes are served in an optimal fashion, is essential for delivery efficiency, customer satisfaction and, ultimately, future profitability. 

Towards the end of 2016, BCS won a major new contract with a catering company that subsequently lead to a 15-20% increase in volume. To ensure this huge rise in volume could be comfortably accommodated, BCS needed more warehouse capacity than could be offered by its existing network of several regional operating branches and its National Distribution Centre. 

BCS enlisted The Supply Chain Consulting Group (SCCG) to establish the optimum location and size of the new warehouse. The consultants conducted sophisticated data analysis to establish the centre of gravity for all of BCS’s customers based on travelling miles, as well as locating concentrated delivery points; from this, the consultants successfully established a focus for the new site location.  

Our Specialist Logistics and Supply Chain Consultants acquired a suitable 55,000 sq.ft. site in Harlow, following which, SCCG worked to optimise the delivery network. Taking into account the new Harlow site, the consultants meticulously assigned postcode areas to branches, determined by structured calculations of how best to distribute across the country.   

Based on the results of this exercise, BCS re-aligned the boundaries for its depots, moving customers between the sites to optimise mileage and the number of routes – factors that can have significant cost and environmental implications.  

BCS wanted to offer a structured service to its clients, delivering to a specific postcode on a specific weekly delivery day.  The experienced SCCG Consultants created a postcode schedule to achieve the most efficient routes and assessed the vehicle requirements and mix of fleet needed for each site.  

The completed project brought measurable benefits to BCS’s business. The new strategically enhanced distribution network grants Bunzl the capacity to manage the extra volume and flow of goods in a balanced way, providing a more reliable and efficient customer service; subsequently allowing the business to expand to meet future demand. Delivery fleets have been reviewed and matched to needs, and routes have been optimally adjusted to minimise cost and carbon emissions. The network is now perfectly in-tune with the customer base.  

“We not only managed to expand our network operating capacity to match our new business needs, but also future-proofed ourselves for further growth from London and the surrounding area. In addition to this, we optimised our delivery footprint and our fleet.” BCS – Network Development Manager.