The group switched its ambient distribution to the massive 625,000sq ft site in Scunthorpe on October 31, but the first day was dogged by a number of systems and operational problems, resulting in a 12-hour delay to orders. In order to make up the backlog, Nisa decided to take half the products in the warehouse off sale and to switch members from a three-day delivery cycle to four days, resulting in stock shortages at the retail end.
One retail manager who contacted C-Store said: “Sales are down 15% at the moment, and we’re losing trade by not being able to get key product lines such as Coca-Cola and sugar in stock. Only half of our last delivery turned up and one of our stores didn’t get any cigarettes at all. We’re soon going to have to start going to Booker. I don’t see why they couldn’t have done the changeover in January when there’s a natural lull in the industry.”
Nisa-Today’s group commercial director Neil Turton told C-Store: “Operationally, the move to the new warehouse is the biggest thing we’ve ever done and there were a number of small issues at the warehouse that had a knock-on effect for retailers. “The slow-moving lines we took off sale account for only 15% of sales, but we had to do it to make the picking for fast-moving and promotional lines more efficient. It was a tough call, but with Christmas coming up we decided to take the pain now on the basis that it would be better to give retailers a definitive position rather than let the problems drag on. We are now in a recovery phase and are confident that we are over the worst.”
Turton confirmed that all lines were back on sale and that a phased return to the three-day delivery cycle was well under way. Special pos material has been produced to apologise to customers for gaps on shelves.