UNFI looks to improve demand planning and replenishment capabilities

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Dive Brief:

  • United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) announced Wednesday it has partnered with Relex Solutions to make its demand planning and procurement operations more efficient.
  • UNFI is using Relex’s cloud-based procurement solution to consolidate and eventually replace multiple UNFI buying systems with a data-driven approach.
  • The partnership announcement follows profit nosedives in UNFI’s two most recent quarters as well as the company’s decision to restructure its operating regions and cut roughly 150 jobs.

Dive Insight:

UNFI said working with Relex is a “key component” of the grocery distributor and wholesaler’s transformation of its supply chain.

Relex’s solution aims to provide an enhanced customer experience and support customer growth by integrating advanced data-driven solutions and improving efficiency in operations, per the press release.

Relex will provide demand planning, ordering, and inventory management capabilities that allow for a holistic view of UNFI’s operations, according to the announcement. This will allow UNFI to better understand future capacity and supply chain constraints, as well as streamline its planning processes and optimize inventory across all UNFI categories. In fresh, for example, UNFI said it will be able to reduce food waste, boost service levels and increase data visibility between its suppliers and customers.

Ultimately, UNFI will have its buying systems streamlined into one buying process. UNFI said it expects the new platform to be running over the next 12 to 18 months.

“As part of UNFI’s multi-faceted transformation agenda, we’re continuing to implement cutting-edge technology to improve the customer and supplier experience, while increasing operating efficiency,” UNFI Chief Operating Officer Erin Horvath said in a statement.

Horvath said that Relex “offers a robust, reliable solution that maximizes UNFI’s capabilities, helps automate our network, and optimizes our procurement processes, ensuring the freshness of our products and quality of service to our customers.”

UNFI has been working recently to boost operational efficiencies and strengthen its financials amid performance struggles. UNFI’s net income decreased 89.6% in its third quarter after dropping 71.2% during its second quarter.

Last week, the company unveiled plans to consolidate its operating structure from four regions to three and eliminate around 150 roles, mainly in management or supervisory positions, saying the changes are part of its transformation plan.

During the company’s second-quarter earnings call, UNFI CEO Sandy Douglas told investors the company is working on a multi-prong “transformation agenda” that will increase network automation and optimization, simplify its pricing and procurement processes, boost its digital offerings and modernize its digital infrastructure.

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