Historically, in stock positions are the poorest over the January period with the trend of 4- 5% lower DIFOT than throughout the year. Typical causes are public holidays and annual leave, seasonality, production shut downs, less reliable transport offerings and end of financial year for some suppliers.

The cost to businesses is very high and there is a genuine desire from retailers and suppliers to improve the situation. Based on this, the FGC in conjunction with Shannon Kelly from Foodstuffs, have created a Winning in January toolkit.

This toolkit builds on the ECRA Winning in January Toolkit which is aimed at improving in stock positions over key seasonal times but has been simplified and reviewed within the New Zealand context. The toolkit has also been endorsed by PEL.

The toolkit provides guidance for improving product availability and delivering improved shopper satisfaction in the summer period. It offers a clear and simple framework for planning and optimising a key sales period. It is intended as an adjunct, not an alternative, to detailed internal and trading partner planning and deployment for January.

In summary the tool brings together both demand and supply sides to develop and agree on one common number. This is then communicated and worked towards with contingency plans and contacts put in place to manage issues.

So how does it work? It is a simple excel based tool which outlines key activities which need to take place on both retailer and supplier side in order to plan effectively for this seasonal period. It covers off cross functional inputs and outputs from both sides and can be used to track completion of key tasks.

Ideally, the planning starts in July each year for the Christmas seasonal period however the tool is also a great checklist for this season to ensure that you have everything in place. The tool will be available on the Foodstuffs and FGC Websites for download.

Kelly Smith, Bizadvisor