Operations management: the Wincanton way
A Wincanton case study

Page 1: Wincanton: the nature of the business

Wincanton's mission is 'delivering supply chain solutions across Europe'. The company is customer focussed: its aim is to help its customers become more efficient and more successful by enabling them to set up facilities and systems that guarantee them the supplies they require, when they need them.

Wincanton is one of the leading logistics firms in Europe and it is the UK's second largest logistics company with 13% of the overall market. It is the UK market leader in grocery distribution, automated warehousing and petrochemical distribution.

In 2004 Wincanton:

  • had a £1.6bn turnover
  • employed over 25,000 people
  • operated over 100 major warehouses
  • deployed 6,000 vehicles
  • operated in 15 European countries.

Currently, the UK accounts for 62% of Wincanton's turnover and produces 83% of the company's profit.

The company's activities include:

  • moving bulk raw materials
  • organising the movement of supplies to companies
  • managing the movement of finished goods to customers
  • managing warehouse facilities.

Wincanton ensures that products are delivered appropriately labelled and in a suitable condition. It can track and trace where these products are at any time. It can also integrate its warehousing systems with its customers' systems to improve the efficiency of stock ordering and delivery. It can help firms with package design and provides consultancy services in areas such as project management and warehouse development.

It can also help with record keeping and data management. Its business, therefore, is not simply moving products from one place to another. It involves fully understanding the client's operations. This ensures that the flow of goods to the client absolutely matches their needs and provides them with the reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness they require.

Wincanton's Products and Services:

  • transport and distribution e.g. delivery of goods using road, rail, and barges
  • warehousing e.g. providing temperature controlled warehouses
  • specialist services e.g. helping with records management
  • added value services e.g. labelling and package design
  • information technology e.g. modelling and simulation, enabling firms to track goods
  • management e.g. consultancy work linked to warehouse design and project management.

Many of Europe's best known businesses use Wincanton's services, including:

  • Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Tesco, Waitrose, Co-op (Food Retail)
  • Bosch, Kellogg's, Mattel, Nestle, Procter and Gamble, St Ivel (FMCG)
  • BASF, BP Castrol, Exxon Mobil, Tesco, Texaco (Petroleum and chemicals)
  • Bostik, Ineos, Saint-Gobain (Industrial)
  • BMW Motorcycles, Honda, Renault, Volvo (Automotive)
  • Argos, B&Q, Comet, Gucci, Next, WH Smith (General Merchandise).

To ensure it maintains its position as one of Europe's leading supply chain management and logistics companies, Wincanton makes full use of its business development team.

The team's role is to find new opportunities for the organisation. It presents proposals for possible projects to senior managers. For a new project to be accepted, the team must demonstrate that the venture is highly likely to achieve a revenue target specified by senior managers. Wincanton is constantly developing new areas of business and the company's annual turnover increased by over 68% in 2004.

Once senior managers have accepted a project, it has to be 'made to happen'. The rest of this Case Study looks at what is involved in delivering one such project: a client's request for a new warehouse facility.

New business development may involve:

  • new contracts with established customers
  • new customers
  • new areas of business
  • strategic acquisitions of other firms to enter new business areas (e.g. MidiData in January 2005 to strengthen the position in the High Technology Logistics sector).

Wincanton | Operations management: the Wincanton way

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