One of the key success factors for Famous Brands is its ability to deliver a complete basket of products to its growing number of franchisees. Accurate, speedy fulfilment is essential and a highly efficient warehouse system is a crucial component of a very demanding logistics operation.
JSE-listed Famous Brands is Africa’s largest branded food service franchisor with a market capitalisation in excess of R16.5 billion. It began as the franchisor of the Steers brand some two decades ago and has now grown to incorporate over 25 brands, among them: Debonairs; Steers: Wimpy; Mugg & Bean: Fishaways and Milky Lane.
Approximately seven years ago Famous Brands took a decision to place more emphasis on logistics in recognition of the strategic role it has to play in providing competitive differentiation. In line with this view, the company decided to insource its warehouse and logistics functions to create a centralised capability that could service all the brands, both current and future. Famous Brands now has ambient warehouses in Midrand and Longmeadow plus a cold storage facility in Crown Mines which services the Gauteng region, with similar hubs in the Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natala and Free State.
In 2008 and as part of this journey Famous Brands elected to first partner with CQuential Solutions – the developer of the market leading cloud based warehouse management solution (WMS) to address the need to deliver accurate and timely stock to its franchisees while optimising operations and reducing costs.
The goal was to provide a better service at a lower cost when compared with what the outsourced model was achieving. The initial focus was to address the challenges posed at the main distribution centre in Midrand – which related to accuracy, efficiency, throughput and space utilisation.
With CQuential’s help, Famous Brands implemented new business processes to support its expanding range of brands. Changes covered a number of areas starting with inbound goods where standard pallet Tie-High’s were put in place at the receiving point. It was also necessary to acquire supplier participation in order to enforce this new discipline and to round off order quantities to support the standard pallet sizes. System driven slotting for put-away and random storage in bulk racking locations, was implemented with automated replenishments, route building and efficient picking methods across ambient and frozen areas as well as across the various brands. Optimising the warehouse in this way entailed significant change to equipment, layout and processes. Moreover, staff training was necessary to ensure they adhered to best practices in the transition to a paperless environment.
As part of the initiative it was necessary to fully integrate the WMS into the existing financial system. The integration included all warehouse transactions from the registering of product in production areas plus processing of purchase orders, through to sales orders and inter-branch transfers
The improved accuracy and efficiency in the warehouse resulted in key financial benefits which included the ability to service additional franchise networks by leveraging the same infrastructure. This together with planning and forecasting initiatives played a key role in improved monthly stock turns.
Famous Brands was one the early adopters of the SaaS model where CQuential’s WMS was deployed in the cloud with no servers or software on-site
CQuential’s solution has also been installed into the new chilled and frozen warehouses at Crown Mones, which was commissioned in 2015. Perishability combined with specific storage requirements and high throughputs placed big demands on the warehouse with accuracy being a non-negotiable element. Additionally, picking and loading had to be related to the distribution route and drop sequence, so that minimal time was wasted during deliveries in order to preserve the cold chain and improve efficiency.
“The solution has proven to be flexible enough to cater for the unique and varied requirements of the different sites even though Famous Brands is running off a single CQuential platform, “ notes Stan Antonites, Product Executive.
CQuential has also recently completed the highly successful roll out of Famous Brands new primary distribution centre in Longmeadow, Johannesburg.
According to Steve Mallaby, CEO, Cquential, the company has helped Famous Brands to develop efficient, accurate yet highly cost-effective supply chain it needs to stay at the forefront of this competitive market.
“The system has proved to be capable of supporting the company’s vigorous growth with consequent increased throughput but without increasing costs. This was achieved by leveraging existing infrastructure which contributed to enhanced productivity and efficiencies,” says Mallaby.
He adds that other key benefits include excellent batch control and full traceability so if there is any issue, Famous Brands can accurately see the location to which specific products were delivered.
“Because the software is supplied on the basis of software as a service (Saas), it remains a monthly operational expense rather than a large capital outlay, which makes financial sense and enables scalability. The added benefit of the Saas environment is that support can be provided remotely,” notes Mallaby
“One of the key benefits for us is that we are able to manage our operations efficiently, while still maintaining the vital ability to provide our franchisees with what they need,” says Famous Brands group logistics services executive Bill Davies.
“One of the biggest benefits of partnering with a local supplier is that we have the opportunity to access CQuential’s consulting team which is a fantastic advantage as they are able to respond to any issues rapidly.