Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s first quarterly Back of Store feature of 2012, bringing you the latest news about the warehouse and logistics products and services available for Britain’s multiple grocers and their supply chains, and customer case studies from key suppliers of equipment and services.

Here at home, with the UK economy still looking bleak, and consumers reining in their spending, manufacturers and multiple grocers alike are even more reliant than ever on their teams putting in a winning performance, to ensure the goods are there in the store for the shoppers with money left to buy.

Many parts of the UK are seeing Poundland and 99p stores open in their high streets. But the punters who have cash to spend – and there are plenty of them out there – are continuing to do so at the multiple retailers, albeit doing it more cleverly. So that means product availability is even more important than ever. And achieving it comes down to food and drink logistics physically delivering the goods.

The massive size of the food and drink logistics sector goes largely unappreciated, compared with more high profile areas of industry like financial services. Year in year out the UK market for warehousing and logistics products and services specifically bought by food and drink manufacturers, distributors and retailers is worth over £12 billion annually, and accounts for an estimated 10% of total spending by these companies.

As the record consistently shows, we have some of the most efficient and dynamic supply chains in the world, particularly in the grocery retail sector. As befits our status as a consumer nation, our warehousing and logistics infrastructure is highly sophisticated. Our supply chains are valuable national assets, with the power to help drive our economic growth whenever it comes. Like the products they deliver they need managing and replenishment, and equipping with the tools for the job and the services to support them.

‘Back of store’ covers everything the shoppers don’t see in the retailer’s supply chain, starting from the distribution centre where the suppliers hand over the goods. Supply chains aren’t sexy – you don’t get acclaimed retail experts like Mary Portas talking about them much. But they continue to be the power behind Britain’s ongoing retail success. Whether you’re talking about the latest market share gains by retailer A from retailer B, or the roll out of our leading supermarkets into other countries around the world, behind them are supply chains whose efficiency Napoleon and other great commanders would envy. Let’s keep it that way.

The Grocery Trader

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