Monday, 11 July 2011

Mini supermarkets

A news item at the weekend told that one of the big four UK supermarkets has opened a small city centre store for the first time. Morrisons were joining others (Tesco & Sainsbury and Co-operative) who have both large out-of-town stores and basic outlets in city centres.

The story claimed that the decision had been taken because of the recession, affecting the number of people who shop out-of-town. But the other stores know that there are different clienteles for different types of shop, so there is almost certainly an underlying decision to try and reach the clientele who shop regularly in their city centres. Maybe the recession drew the management's attention to the need to do this?

I don't know how many O.R. scientists work at Morrisons. But I hope that any who are there have read about a study that one of the others commissioned, which led to a change in the way that it handled distribution to its city-centre shops. The study showed that the principles of distribution were significantly different to such stores, compared with the model that was used for out-of-town stores. The O.R. person involved spent three months travelling in the cabs to observe what actually happened, which was not what the staff in head office thought happened. And as numerous O.R. studies have shown, it is always important for the O.R. staff to get involved on the front line, or sharp end.

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