The Hermes Retail Week Supply Chain Awards are open for entries. Rebecca Thomson takes a look at the categories and previous winners.

Wickes won The Hermes Grand Prix accolade last year for its National Delivery Service

The supply chain doesn’t always get the attention many would argue it deserves, but 2013 hasn’t been a run-of-the-mill year for the industry so far.

In an environment where supply chain problems can cause serious headaches for even the biggest retailers, such as the horse meat crisis impacting grocers, the sector has acquired a new level of importance to retail over the past 12 months.

And it’s not just the bad press that makes the supply chain such a pertinent topic. Not only will a robust system help avoid problems, a strong supply chain provides a real source of competitive advantage - as retailers such as former Hermes Retail Week Supply Chain Awards winners Wickes and Boots will attest, it can make all the difference to the success of a retail business.

Industry-wide recognition

Since the supply chain is now more crucial than ever, it makes sense to shout about achievements. As Carole Woodhead, chief executive of distribution specialist Hermes, which sponsors the awards, says: “As a winner or finalist you receive industry-wide recognition for the excellence within your retail supply chain.

“This not only demonstrates to customers, partners and peers that your supply chain is delivering major change and driving the business forward, but also boosts team morale by rewarding and celebrating people’s hard work and dedication over the past year.”

Previous years’ winners give an idea of what a difference a strong supply chain can make. DIY specialist Wickes won The Hermes Multichannel Project of the Year award last year for its work on its delivery system, the National
Delivery Service, after introducing online and catalogue services that offered home delivery.

Problems arose when it came to extending the services to Wickes’ bulkier DIY goods, because the retailer’s fleet of delivery vehicles was only able to cope with smaller products. Many of Wickes’ customers are tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts and the retailer needed to work out a way to ensure they could buy bigger products online.

Wickes used a ‘hub and spoke’ model to tackle the issue, making one store a central hub for an area and equipping it to fulfil deliveries for stores and online orders in the locality. About 90 stores were reconfigured to operate as delivery hubs and 150 new vehicles were purchased.

In 2011 alone the retailer fulfilled 420,000 deliveries of large products using the new system.

It also worked with parent company Travis Perkins to identify opportunities to use group vehicles, introduced a website delivery booking service and designed and built an IT system to support the changes.

The retailer plans to continue to improve the service, giving customers more choice on the time of deliveries, and it says the system has generated incremental sales.

The Wickes initiative impressed the judges enough for them to award it the The Hermes Grand Prix award, which is the overall winner chosen from the category winners. The judges said at the time: “We awarded the overall prize to a transformative project that achieved an impressive customer response in a challenging sector - truly fantastic.”

Woodhead agrees that the Wickes project was a memorable entry: “My particular highlight was presenting Wickes with both The Hermes Multichannel Project of the Year award and The Hermes Grand Prix award, in recognition of the success of its National Delivery Service. The project not only transformed the company, it also achieved an impressive customer response.”

Team success

The Ligentia Supply Chain Team of the Year award was won by Iceland last year. The team’s management entered the group of 50 people because supply chain teams don’t often get to shine in the spotlight.

Iceland founder Malcolm Walker agreed, saying: “I completely agree that supply chain teams often go unrecognised.

“Over the crucial Christmas period buyers can develop fantastic products, marketing teams can create amazing adverts but if those products aren’t on the shelves when the customers are in to buy them, what a complete waste of money.

“This year, more than ever, I am indebted to our supply chain for its quiet, unshowy efficiency.”

The team is long-standing, with an average of 13.6 years’ service between them and managers emphasised the strong relationship with delivery partner DHL as a core part of its success.

The team delivered millions of pounds worth of cost savings in 2011, and was flagged as being particularly crucial to the business over the peak Christmas trading period.

The team works hard every year to make sure enough stock is built up to deal with peak demand, but also ensures it is brought into the business late enough that it does not sit in warehouses for too long.

The team also returned stock tonormal levels following the peak period three weeks earlier than in previous years, with a far lower write-off of unsold seasonal product.

Senior supply chain management also organised a supply chain conference for the wider team, aimed at highlighting the business’ recognition of its contribution. Attended by Walker, the event helped to motivate and focus everybody.

Crucial to businesses

Other categories in the awards include the International Supply Chain Initiative of the Year, which celebrates
the crucial role supply chain teams play in enabling international expansion. The accolade was won by Nike Russia last year.

The Norbert Dentressangle Supply Chain Leader of the Year award is another highlight, seeking out and celebrating the best leaders in the industry. Last year, Robin Proctor, group supply chain director at Travis Perkins, bagged the award for his long track record of consistent achievement. The judges said: “Robin is a born-and-bred retail supply chain leader. He has delivered unique and outstanding results in a considered and humble manner, and continues to drive innovation.”

Retail supply chain teams aren’t always sufficiently recognised, and these awards are a great chance to acknowledge how crucial they are - no matter which category retailers operate in, their hard work is worth celebrating.

How to enter

1. Click here to visit the awards site
2. Choose categories to enter (you can enter more than one)
3. Submit your entries by May 24
4. Entries from retailers and suppliers in partnership with retailers are all welcome
5. If you have any questions about the entry process, please get in touch with Lucy Trevor on 020 3033 2661 or email at
6. The awards take place on September 26 at The London Hilton Hotel on Park Lane

Hermes Retail Week Supply Chain Awards - The Categories

  • The Wincanton Supply Chain Technology of the Year This award recognises the projects where technology has been used to improve the supply chain, whether through increased productivity of a distribution site, reducing cost, or improving availability and accuracy
    of deliveries.
  • The Yusen Logistics Distribution and Warehouse Initiative of the Year Recognises the best new distribution development by a retailer.
  • Transport Initiative of the Year Examples of transport innovations that are reaping rewards financially, environmentally or strategically.
  • The Ligentia Supply Chain Team of the Year Recognises the role of outstanding supply chain managers and teams.
  • The BiS Henderson Recruitment Third-Party Logistics Provider of the Year The provider with the most creative ideas and best retail results.
  • The Hermes Multichannel Project of the Year Recognising the work behind the scenes that makes multichannel services possible.
  • The DHL Fulfilment Initiativeof the Year Recognises innovative methods to fulfil customer orders across all channels.
  • The Norbert Dentressangle Supply Chain Leader of the Year The leader who has made the biggest difference to the industry in the last year.
  • The PD Portcentric Logistics Supply Chain Project of the Year A project that hastransformed a retailer’s supply chain.
  • International Supply Chain Initiative of the Year Initiatives that have helped retailers respond to overseas challenges, or driven new market growth.
  • Supply Chain Rising Star of the Year Recognising the next retail supply chain leaders.
  • The Damco Green Supply Chain Initiative of the Year Recognising where and how the supply chain has a positive effect on the environment.
  • The Hermes Grand Prix The ‘winner of winners’ award, as chosen by the judges.