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Supply chain conference to showcase new solutions

BY DSN STAFF

To the surprise of no one in pharmacy retailing, supply chain activities have become one of the most critical aspects of the business. With Wal-Mart setting the bar on just-in-time distribution efficiency and operating costs rising across the board, the quest to boost productivity through supply-chain improvements has taken on increasing urgency, and has elevated the role of supply-chain executives.

That quest also has made the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ annual Supply Chain and Logistics Conference one of the industry’s most anticipated smaller-scale events. This year’s conference, slated for March 2 to 4 at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, Ariz., will draw executives representing some 23,000 chain pharmacies and provide a showcase for new developments in source-based product coding, radio frequency identification, just-in-time delivery, inventory returns and other key productivity areas.

“The supply chain has improved its visibility and importance within retailing,” said Steve Perlowski, NACDS vice president of industry affairs. “Wal-Mart built a model of supply chain efficiency, and got CEOs talking about it. And when you look at some of the issues we face today, with gas prices and sustainability issues, those expenses can really drain a company’s bottom line.”

That, in turn, is driving attendance. According to NACDS spokeswoman Chrissy Kopple, this year’s gathering will draw some 450 attendees, about 5 percent more than last year.

“The No. 1 reason why companies attend is to meet with their trading partners,” Perlowski said. “It’s all about improving efficiencies and taking unnecessary costs out of the mutual supply chain. It’s arranged to make it very productive, so that in two days’ time you can meet with a good portion of your trading partners and come up with solid action plans to improve your performance over the coming 12 months.”

The other group that will be attending, Perlowski said, are the vendors that serve the supply chain industry—the transportation vendors, the returned-goods processing companies and the technology providers that offer solutions for such critical activities as inventory and warehouse management.

The meeting agenda includes a talk on hiring and training the disabled by Walgreens executives Randy Lewis, senior vice president of distribution and logistics, and Deb Russell, who heads the chain’s career outreach department. NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson also will update attendees on NACDS activities in 2008.

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Sturken to celebrate his fifth year at Spartan by ringing NASDAQ bell

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores’ chairman and chief executive officer Craig Sturken is slated to ring the NASDAQ opening bell on March 3 in celebration of his fifth anniversary leading Spartan, the company announced Thursday.

 “It is an honor to ring the opening NASDAQ bell in celebration of our fifth successful year since transforming into a consumer-centric organization and refocusing our business on our core distribution and retail operations,” Sturken stated. “We have been in the grocery business for more than 90 years and this is our eighth year as a public company, which is marked by our ability to develop and execute successful business strategies in a highly competitive market.”

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Unilever to reorganize company structure

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONDON Unilever, whose brands include Axe, Sunsilk and Dove, has announced that it is restructuring the company and combining its home and personal care segment and food segment into a single category structure.

Ralph Kugler, president of home and personal care, will step down in May at the Annual General Meetings after 29 years of service. The roles of president of home and personal care and president of foods will be merged under the leadership of Vindi Banga, currently president of foods.

To reflect the company’s focus on growth in developing markets, Central and Eastern Europe will be managed within an enlarged region comprised of Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe will become a standalone region.

In other moves, Kees van der Graaf will retire in May from the Unilever board and from his role as president of Europe after a 32-year career with Unilever.

Harish Manwani, currently president of Asia/Africa, will lead the new expanded region. Doug Baillie will serve as president of Western Europe, having previously served as chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever.

“These measures build naturally on the changes of recent years and give us an organizational structure even better placed to advance our growth agenda. At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation to Kees and Ralph for the significant contribution they have made over long and distinguished years,” stated Patrick Cescau, group chief executive.

In addition, James Lawrence, currently chief financial officer, will be proposed in May for election as an executive director of Unilever. This change will mean that the Unilever board will be comprised of two executive directors and 11 non-executives.

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