Walton Garden Buildings are a leading manufacturer and distributor of garden sheds, summer houses and other garden buildings, furniture and accessories. Traditionally their sheds have been sold through DIY Superstores, Builder’s Merchants and Garden Centres, but the last couple of years have seen a rapid switch to direct on-line sales, either via the Waltons website or via a number of major retail partners. This, combined with new investment in manufacturing capacity to drive further growth, has resulted in Waltons experiencing dramatic change in a relatively short period of time.
Ever mindful of the need to maintain optimum logistics efficiency with high levels of customer service, Waltons decided to call in The Logistics Business to understand how a consultancy could help apply industry leading thinking and tailor this to the unique aspects of their operation. This was a decision not taken lightly by the Waltons team, who had concerns over the cost of using a leading logistics consultancy and, because they were keen to carry out any change and implementation work themselves, they wanted to be involved in all stages of the project. The Logistics Business provided guidance on the most appropriate method in order to integrate their experience and provide practical solutions, and demonstrated how their analytical techniques could be adapted to ensure a thorough review combined with a recommendation that would be relevant to this size of business. It was important to Waltons that they took responsibility for the solution delivery in order to generate a feeling of ownership throughout all levels of their workforce. This was an important consideration when developing the project approach.
The Logistics Business helped Waltons to review its logistics operation by focusing their attention on the key areas for improvement. The Logistics Business examined all aspects of the warehousing, delivery and customer service using a structured set of investigative techniques to quickly understand the operation, what made it unique, and identify opportunities for improvement. Breaking down the operation into a series of distinct subdivisions provided a list of issues that required attention, the effect of the problem, and the other areas within the operations that were being affected.
Working closely with the executive team at Waltons, The Logistics Business developed the issues identified into a prioritised series of focussed improvement projects. These were specifically targeted at different aspects of the business. Each project had the current issues clearly defined, together with a target objective and timescale, plus a series of solution initiatives with relevant considerations. The final stage of the project was for The Logistics Business to provide the Waltons executive team with specific guidelines for implementation via a handover meeting. After prioritising the initiatives, Waltons got to work with internal project teams to develop the solutions and implement them.
From this short project, Waltons gained an insight into their business that was invaluable. The introduction of a consultant with relevant analytical business experience provided practical and effective solutions that could be readily adopted. All of this was completed within a short timescale. Any concerns over whether a relatively small organisation can be helped with the use of a specialist consultant were addressed both in the project scoping phase, and throughout the project as The Logistics Business demonstrated a flexible, non-prescriptive approach to the unique issues that the Waltons business presented.