Zaandam, the Netherlands – Today, Albert Heijn is informing its employees that it intends to invest heavily in its supply chain over the next couple of years. It aims to do so by gradually mechanizing operational practices for non-perishables in its regional distribution centers (RDCs), and by simplifying the fresh food chain by creating national category centers (NCCs) to deal with a selection of perishables. These and other innovations should help Albert Heijn meet customer requirements and gear up for future growth.
Sander van der Laan, Albert Heijn CEO, comments: “Every day, many Albert Heijn colleagues together ensure that the shelves in our over-850 stores are well stocked. We’re looking to secure our capacity for future growth, and by simplifying our fresh food chain and mechanizing non-perishables we should be able to provide a better service at lower prices – and be ready for growth.”
Mechanizing non-perishables at RDCs
Albert Heijn aims to gradually mechanize its RDCs, starting with a pilot program for part of its non-perishable offering in one of these centers. As soon as this program is running smoothly and to the company’s satisfaction, it will expand the pilot to include its other non-perishable products, followed later by the other three RDCs. It will take a number of years before the full range of non-perishables at the first RDC is mechanized. This isn’t the first time that Albert Heijn has worked with machines – Triple-O, for instance, is used for part of the product range – but this latest mechanization is intended to encompass all non-perishable products.
Simplifying the fresh food chain
In addition, Albert Heijn is looking to simplify the fresh food chain by joining forces with suppliers and coordinating part of its fresh food range in national category centers (NCCs), meaning that suppliers will deliver their products to a single, central location. As a result, suppliers will no longer keep stocks, and Albert Heijn stores will take delivery of all products from the same category in one go. For customers, this means that Albert Heijn’s products will be even fresher than they are today. The NCCs should have completely replaced the national fresh centers in Nieuwegein and Utrecht in a couple of years’ time. Albert Heijn will outsource the NCCs to a logistics service provider.
As Albert Heijn mechanizes and simplifies, temporary employee numbers should also gradually fall. There should be enough work within the company for all employees currently on the Albert Heijn payroll.