Musgrave counts the cost of Brexit

Brexit is a “massive deal” for Irish supermarket chain Musgrave Group, with extra warehousing and stockpiling of goods just some of the many headaches being dealt with.

Speaking at the Xcelerate Symphony Retail Forum today, the retailer’s head of commercial IT Ger O'Flynn described the UK’s impending exit from the EU as “this comedy soap opera we tune into every night”.

He pointed out that due to Musgrave's reach across Ireland and Northern Ireland, the backstop was an obvious supply chain problem, but with many suppliers based in the mainland UK and Europe, any delays in ports could cause fresh food chaos.

“Many of our UK suppliers are creating their own Irish entities, which is a real headache as we have to re-list them all on our systems, not to mention the fact that some of them are making new distribution and warehousing partnerships,” commented O’Flynn.

“We may also have to redefine all our planograms very quickly – which puts a lot of additional pressure on our digital teams.”

Aside from Brexit, O’Flynn explained that the company’s approach has always been “that it’s not technology for technology’s sake – there has to be a business reason for it”.

In recent years, and with help from Symphony’s artificial intelligence-based systems, Musgrave has created an end-to-end supply chain, improving communications between suppliers, stores and warehousing.

“We can now generate the right supplier order as efficiently as possible, while reducing safety stock levels, as well as managing warehouse receiving capacity with a focus on priority delivery,” explained O’Flynn.

Next on the agenda is a new retailer dashboard, delivery tracking and a financial portal. “We have about 52,000 connected devices across Ireland, so AI can keep them all up to date, helping with operations and cyber security,” O’Flynn added.

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