Supply Chain Blog

FMCG Demand Planning Quality and Wimbledon Tennis

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Jun 25, 2013

That time of year is upon us once again. This 2 week period usually guarantees rain in UK when the only relief could be an impossibly wrinkle-free and young-looking Cliff Richard leading the communal singing during the delays. “Oohs” and “aahs” and “I say’s” will reverberate around the famous courts and atop Henman Hilll or is it Murray Mount now? Was it ever Taylor Tor, Lloyd Lump or even Perry Peak?

Yes, the Wimbledon tennis tournament takes place in SW19. Will Andy Murray go one step further and win the championship? Will any of the British ladies get past the dressing room door? Will there be enough balls? Yes, balls. Wimbledon is a huge planning and logistics exercise which largely goes unnoticed – like Supply Chains all over the globe; nobody knows they are there until something does not go precisely to plan.

Can you imagine the umpire calling for new balls please, yet finding there are none available or not at the right storage temperature? How would McEnroe react to that at his peak of petulance? How do you forecast how many balls you need – around 52,000 apparently? Someone must and they are probably licenced to over-estimate to ensure no unhappy umps and palyers. (Good to see the used balls are recycled as nests for brown mice, honest.)

Pimms is usually associated with hot summery days so I always find it incongruous that this drink and strawberries are must-haves for 2 weeks in July in UK. More than 80,000 pints (   litres) of Pimms and 17,000 bottles of champagne are quaffed by people who are apparently trying to watch tennis.  If you look closely during the long rallies you will notice that the watching heads move from side to side with a 2 second delay as they belatedly react to being woken by the smash of ball on racquet.

My word, if demand forecasts were incorrect or logistics not seamless you could easily cause a riot in Womble-land. Spectators might even have to eat normal food and drink and that just would not do, would it? Pimms, champagne and strawberry producers do not get a second chance at satisfying this huge and unusual demand so these 2 weeks are extremely important to them. Ok, Wimbledon may not make or break annual performance but it can certainly put a very hefty dent in the final numbers.

FMCG S&OP RTM  Tennis resized 600As far as I am aware none of these Wimbledon staples have suffered significant stock-outs so these FMCG producers appear to have placed the right resources and processes (S&OP?) behind making this event a complete success. While there may not be a flagship, high consumption event associated with beer and other FMCG drinks why do they seem unable to ensure stock availability as close to 100% as possible in peak periods?

Is it lack of attention to S&OP or an imperfect Route To Market (RTM) deployment or is it a fact that demand cannot be accurately forecast? I don’t believe that drinks forecasting cannot be significantly improved through taking an outside view of demand planning within S&OP and the RTM network quality. Most CEO's know their RTM is just not working but seem unable or unwilling to raise their game.

So many Producers suffer peak period stock-outs that the most common exchange at appraisal time might be “new balls please”!

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at

Tagss: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, RTM Assessment Tool