Hitchen Foods was established in the 1930s as a family owned business becoming a limited company in 1961. The company was acquired by Bakkavör group in October 2005. They are the largest provider in the fresh prepared foods market for the UK, with 26 manufacturing facilities.
At Hitchen Foods the product ranges primarily include salads, ready meals, prepared produce and pizza toppings. This product mix results in the manufacture of over 100,000 meals a day.
Prior to Reflex, the forecast was dependent upon multiple Excel spreadsheets, created and managed by the sales, finance and planning departments. Each team had different aims and objectives. Forecasts were difficult to maintain and it was even more difficult to track down just who had made changes and why any particular change had been made.
With little confidence in the planning process and a lack of change visibility, stock levels for packaging requirements were maintained at high levels creating over 20 stock days of redundant stock.
The primary objective was to achieve a single forecast model and support a formalised sales and operations planning process (S&OP) focusing on both promotional activity and the impact of new ranges many months in advance of their launch dates. Annual or even biannual range renewal processes meant accuracy was critical to enable constructive debate with regard to new product launches.
As a result of introducing Reflex, the most important benefit has been the long-term predictability, which has delivered better control over inventory requirement whist maintaining service levels. Inventories have been reduced by 30% primarily through a 40% reduction in the number of stock days on hand.
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"The Reflex suite of modules and features allow us to continually extend the usage and scope of the system as the business looks to improve its control over other areas of the planning arena. It is constantly helping us make better informed decisions today by providing us with accurate predictions of the future we can depend upon"- Steve Smith, Supply Chain Manager.