05 February 2004 | Robin Parker
Brewing giant Scottish Courage claims it has finally turned around its crisis-hit supply network after making a record number of deliveries complete and on time in the run-up to Christmas.
The company, whose brands include Foster's lager and John Smith's bitter, said in February 2001 that reducing its number of depots and setting up three regional distribution centres would save £46 million a year and cut inventory by 40 per cent.
But last July, parent group Scottish & Newcastle admitted it had lost £18 million in profits after going back on plans to merge stockholding for the on-trade - pubs and restaurants - and the off-trade - retail and off-licences. The decision led to high running costs (see News
, 17 July 2003).
Its latest trading statement claims, however, that 99 per cent of its crucial Christmas off-trade orders were on time and complete between 23 November and 27 December last year.
On-trade service levels hit record highs and satisfaction levels among trade customers such as Enterprise Inns and Unique rose from 56 per cent to 72 per cent.
John Dunsmore, Scottish Courage's chairman and manufacturing director, said that a "robust and reliable" supply chain was now in place and the brewer was now in a position to drive the proposed savings.
But the group has denied claims by analysts at Credit Suisse First Boston that it might have to close two breweries to achieve this.
A reshuffle of its supply chain team is also complete, after Paul Bartlett joined in the new position of commercial director.
Further costs incurred during the overhaul, conducted with logistics group Hays, will be revealed in a fortnight when S&N publishes its annual results.