Greggs focusing on operational effectiveness

Greggs is currently undergoing a transition from traditional bakery retailer to a food-on-the-go retailer, which has involved investment in improving operational efficiency.

One of the key areas of focus for the retailer has been the implementation of a forecast-based staff scheduling, and time and attendance system, which the business says is helping the way its manages employee rosters.

Essential Retail caught up with Neil Parrish, workload and efficiency manager at Greggs, to find out how the roll-out of JDA's workforce management (WFM) system across the retailer's 1,700-strong store portfolio is helping the company achieve its goals.

How has technology improved fundamental workforce management strategies in retail?

For Greggs, the process began very manually. Labour standards were measured using traditional time study techniques across hundreds of stores before embarking on writing our own in-house system to produce demand curves. We didn’t have electronic point of sale (EPoS) tills at the time and so data from till rolls had to be used to painstakingly enter hourly transaction numbers. Over time we introduced EPoS tills which meant we could integrate this data into our WFM solution, and then investment in Oracle database allowed more focused reporting and the ability to target exceptions.

What are the main benefits of forecast-based staff scheduling and what factors are taken into account when producing such a plan at Greggs?

Historically we have aligned labour to a budget or historical sales data, rather than flexing in line with moving sales. Hours tended to be static in shops resulting in under-staffing one week and over-staffing the next. Seasonality is key for Greggs as events such as Easter, Halloween, Christmas and school holidays all impact sales mix and customer profiles.

What processes does a retailer need to go through before implementing new forecast-based planning technology?

It is important to know what the drivers are that need to be forecast in order to produce accurate labour requirements, and ensuring that the technology and processes exist to capture the historical information that is needed for forecasting.

Which type of retailer does forecast-based scheduling best suit – how does it differ by sector?

Any retailer where sales fluctuate due to known events would benefit from forecast based scheduling, unless there is no ability to flex staffing levels in line with this.

Parrish and Andrew Kirkwood, GVP sales at JDA, will be presenting the conference session 'How a Forecast-based Manpower Planning System is Improving Operational Effectiveness and Underpinning Greggs Strategic Re-shaping of their Business to Deliver Long Term Sustainable Growth' at this year's RBTE.

Examining the partnership with JDA, the session will take place at 10:00 on 11 March in Theatre A at London's Earls Court.