|Implementing a pan-European Strategy
a platform for realising this goal, BIS had acquired
a series of leading European industrial parts distributors
in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands and
Portugal. BIS employs over 2000 staff to service
105,000 customers through a 230 branch network.
Between the four major national distribution centres
and branch network BIS holds an inventory covering
500,000 product types.
BIS faces the challenge of transforming a collection
of individual national businesses into an integrated
pan-European industrial services business. This
involves identifying the synergies available and
the cost savings that could be achieved in key areas
of the business such as purchasing, logistics and
systems. One of the core objectives that evolved
from this thinking was to achieve optimal customer
service levels at the lowest cost by improving sourcing
of products not held in stock, by making product
held in one country visible and available to the
others. The benefits of this strategy were clear:
Improve customer service levels
by rapid sourcing of products from within the group
for urgent customer requirements.
Meet market demands by providing
a truly pan-European distribution service.
Reduce purchasing costs by
providing an internal ordering process allowing
BIS businesses to purchase product from each other
before going to non-core suppliers.
Improve stock utilisation through
internal purchasing and promoting the movement of
provisioned and slow moving stock between the businesses.
Integration Without Interruption
A key challenge is that each business has a
different sales order processing system and no common
stock referencing approach. The traditional solution
would have been to standardise on one system and
attempt to implement this in all BIS businesses.
In other words, replacing the existing systems and
causing major upheaval to the businesses in the
process. Brammer did not consider this a pragmatic
option both from a cost and customer service perspective.
netvoyager proposed to implement a centralised inventory
management system using a virtual product database
that was available to all BIS businesses over the
company intranet. Most importantly, the system would
provide unification of the disparate product files
without change to the existing back-end systems.
The first implementation was to focus on the four
largest European BIS businesses, in the UK, Germany,
France and Spain.