29 Mar Belron UK’s John Cooper Talks COVID, Brexit on Voxware’s DC Innovation Series
In the latest episode of the DC Innovation Series: 20 Minute Talks with Supply Chain Pros, Voxware’s President & CEO Keith Phillips sat down with John Cooper, Head of Supply Chain for Belron UK Ltd., the world’s leading vehicle glass repair, replacement and recalibration group.
The first international guest to join the DC Innovation Series, Cooper offered an informative worldview perspective to the Series, where he discussed the UK perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences to the supply chain, and the speed of change that it represented. Cooper reflects on the difficulty to forecast customer need due to fluctuations in consumer behavior during multiple lockdowns and the subsequent swings in demand.
Cooper described how Belron – which is comprised of 16 brands, notably Safelite (US), Carglass (EU) and Autoglass (UK and Ireland) – needed to display a sense of agility in their processes and procedures during the pandemic to properly balance levels of inventory. Considering Belron sources and imports products from OEMs across the globe, this agility was essential in respect to the significant delays in imports and port restrictions
While these port restrictions were exacerbated by COVID-19, Cooper explained, they were already a growing concern stemming from another major catalyst of change for Belron in 2020: the Brexit situation.
“The process of bringing products in and out of the UK is now far more documented and rigorous,” Cooper said. “The fact that documentation is more complicated and time consuming, it’s a challenge for a business that operates in a just-in-time model. The complexity of making sure we were fully compliant was something that we were not expecting. We had to resolve and find a solution very quickly.”
Cooper explained that Belron needed to ensure that their cost base is reflective of a business that could see significant changes within its demand profile, both up and down.
One of the reasons that Cooper finds it beneficial in deploying Voxware for Belron’s voice-picking solution, is because of their Solution as a Service (SaaS) model. The ability to scale during varying business conditions has proven time and again to be beneficial.
“One of the things we have been focusing heavily on over the past 12 months is trying to reduce the amount of fixed costs into other variable costs or semi-variable costs,” said Cooper. “Recent upgrades and moving into a SaaS model check the boxes allowing us to flex our business up and down in accordance with what is happening with our demand. So, we have endless amounts of growth and if we need to pull back, we can.”
New episodes of the DC Innovation Series presented by Voxware go live on the second Thursday of every month. Watch the Cooper episode, and past installments, here. Join us in April as Mark Duffy, President and CEO of Fond du Lac, DNT Express and Chilled Solutions, LLC talks about all things 3PL.