Fat Face Case Study
Capacity and Performance Optimisation for Major Fashion Retailer
Fat Face, the active lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer, operates two warehouse sites in Havant, Hampshire, which supply its network of 180 UK stores with the latest fashions.
The company is continuing to expand throughout the UK, adding around 20 new outlets every year. But with success also comes challenges for the business’ supply chain, which needs to flex to accommodate increased demand for Fat Face products throughout the year and especially during periods of high demand.
The logistics team at Fat Face realised that the business needed to assess new ways of operating from its current site, avoiding the need to utilise expensive, short-term facilities. Total Logistics was appointed to review Fat Face’s current warehousing operations, with the remit to offer advice on the company’s supply chain strategy moving forward.
As well as looking at how Fat Face held and processed stock (including goods-in and picking), the Total Logistics team examined how end of season stock was handled. One of the challenges facing the business is the sheer complexity and range of products needed to satisfy the seven seasons now used in retail; Autumn transition, Autumn, Winter, High Winter, Spring, Summer and High Summer.
Over a year, Total Logistics carried out a detailed analysis of stock movements, to enable a realistic and sustainable solution to be developed. The study revealed that although Fat Face’s main site at Havant contained sufficient storage capacity and stock locations to cope with demand, improved utilisation could be achieved through optimised planning. Total Logistics worked closely with the Fat Face team to help them develop the ideas they had for expanding their logistics capacity.
Gavin Parnell of Total Logistics said: “In common with many retailers, we found that Fat Face was considering a number of supply chain options. These included a potentially costly expansion programme that could be avoided by fully examining their current space utilisation.”
By re-organising storage media to align more closely with the stock profile, Total Logistics enabled Fat Face to increase warehouse utilisation significantly. This meant that the retailer could continue to meet its projected warehousing requirements without the need to expand existing, or acquire new, premises.
Total Logistics also made several important recommendations to the way that pre-picking of stock was carried out (as well as stock configuration), which increased the density of stock storage and reduced man hours needed during season change period.
Another major improvement to the warehouse performance was achieved by changing the software configuration to allow any carton of a specific SKU to be removed from the pallet, rather than the one the system believes is on top. This change enabled warehouse operatives to choose specific SKUs (in small quantities) or dispatch a complete pallet where larger shops can take full case quantities.
Simon Ostrom, head of supply chain and logistics at Fat Face, said: “We found the contribution the Total Logistics team made to our decision making invaluable. Having a fresh pair of eyes to provide a truly independent, informed review of our warehouse operations was just what we needed. Thanks to their recommendations, we have been able to create a far more efficient supply chain operation that has meant that we can continue to fulfil the needs of the business without a costly expansion in warehousing space.”
As well as the significant improvement in utilisation Fat Face has seen at its Havant warehouse, the business has also seen a considerable rise in productivity. This has ensured that Fat Face enjoys a far more cost effective warehouse operation, which has enabled it to be more competitive on pricing in the stores. Fat Face’s internal team ensured that the full benefits were achieved, by successfully implementing the recommendations of the joint project team.
“Making these relatively simple but important changes to the way we operate our warehouse has had a hugely beneficial impact on our overall business,” concluded Simon Ostrom.
With capacity constraints in the current season, Fat Face needed a solid plan to accommodate the following year’s volume, and a solution that could be implemented quickly.