About the client
With a winemaking legacy that can be traced back across five generations, Famille Perrin is now the leading organic wine grower of the Southern Rhône Valley. A commitment to manual methods and a deep belief in organic viticulture have gained the company international recognition, and it was named “Winery of the Year” at the 14th annual Meininger Awards.
- Significant improvements in understanding of supply and demand.
- Better insight into sales performance and missed opportunities.
- Facilitates smarter decisions around the allocation of stock.
- Underpins more constructive and collaborative retailer relationships.
Uncorking insights about demand and supply
“We’d get an order in. We’d process it. And that was that. That was really all the visibility we had.”
For James Heller, UK & Ireland Sales Director at Famille Perrin, it’s relatively easy to split his time with the company into one of two periods: before insights, and after. Having joined the winemaker in November 2022, James quickly discovered that there was less information available on issues like stock and demand than he would have liked. “It was one of my first priorities,” he says. “I had to get a better understanding of where we were in the market.”
It isn’t hard to understand why the company was lacking in that area. For a start, Famille Perrin’s recent story is one of explosive, off-the-charts growth. Five years ago, its La Vieille Ferme label was selling “around a million bottles per year” in the UK, for instance. Fast forward to now, and that number sits in excess of 9m, with boxes, minis, other formats and more brands on top.
Then, there’s the nature of the company itself: family-owned and close-knit, Famille Perrin runs lean. Prior to James’ arrival, that meant that most of the operational responsibilities fell on the shoulders of people who were more familiar with délestage than demand data. Understandably, that led to the situation that Heller outlines above, one in which the company was managing orders on a literal case-by-case basis.
Improved visibility into demand and performance
A powerful grocery analytics platform, SKUtrak gives CPGs a complete, current, and coherent view of their flow of goods – all wrapped up in easy-to-read, visual dashboards. In less than a year spent using it at Famille Perrin, the platform’s impact is what James describes as “game changing”. From almost no insight, the company has been able to get rapidly up to speed on a range of issues, sales performance being one of the most critical.
“When we started looking back using SKUtrak, we were able to spot gaps and dips in sales that were clearly a result of stores going out of stock,” he says. “We could see promotions kicking in, sales starting to spike, and then falling off of a cliff because all of the initial allocation had been sold. The company has grown a lot in recent years, but if you want to keep pushing forward, then that’s the kind of insight you need.”
Keeping track of daily sales and stock holdings
James points to some of the platform’s key features as helping to drive that insight. The Range Review tool, he says, is “incredibly helpful as a way of keeping track of daily sales”. The Replenishment Management Stock screen, on the other hand, is “invaluable” - giving James and his team a deeper and more current understanding of the company’s stock holdings across both depots and stores.
The benefits that SKUtrak has delivered are all the more important bearing in mind the growing scrutiny that Famille Perrin is under. Now the UK’s largest French wine brand by some margin, the days of operating “under the radar” are gone.
“When you’re a new brand, or your sales volumes are comparatively small, I think that you’re afforded a certain amount of slack in terms of how you operate,” notes Heller. “But when you’re catching up to some of the largest winemakers in the world, there’s a certain spotlight that goes with that. You can’t rely on guesswork any more. You have to be all over these kinds of issues. You have to be aware.”
That’s no assumption on James’ part, either. Having previously worked as a buyer for two of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, he speaks with a unique knowledge of the challenges that his counterparts face. That perspective, he says, has helped him get even more value out of the insights that SKUtrak provides.
“I know from experience that most buyers aren’t aware when the lines they look after are going out of stock,” he says. “With SKUtrak, I have the data that I need to very gently let them know that they’re running low. I can tell them when they might be under-forecasting, or if their projections for an upcoming promotion are being skewed by previous stockouts. It shines a light on things that might otherwise go unnoticed.”
The data James gets from SKUtrak makes Famille Perrin’s dialogue with retailers that much more constructive, too. “I speak to supply chain teams a lot, and I’m acutely conscious of the fact that suppliers can sometimes try to push stock when it’s not really needed,” he adds. “That’s where proof really helps. If you can engage the buyers and present the facts, then it’s a lot easier to show that you’re genuinely trying to help rather than just hit your numbers.”
Smarter decisions about stock allocation
SKUtrak’s value to Famille Perrin doesn’t end there. Pointing to recent world events, James also says that the platform has helped the company to navigate disruption within its own supply chain, too.
“Glass is a real problem right now,” he explains. “Prices have gone through the roof, and availability has suffered. Obviously, that leads to a certain amount of slowdown in the production process.” As a result, Famille Perrin has needed to make some tough decisions about allocation. “We might have 400,000 bottles to go around, and orders for 700,000, so we need to work out the best way to manage that.”
Here, SKUtrak’s ability to show stock at depot level has helped Heller and his team make smarter choices. “We’ve had situations where we’ll receive a huge order from one retailer, and then we look at their depot and they already have plenty in stock. That makes it a lot easier to prioritise effectively.”
While that kind of strategic decision making is important at any time of the year, of course, it becomes absolutely critical in the run-up to milestone events like Christmas - an event that creates challenges of its own.
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