Case Studies Asahi

Refreshing the supply chain for premium beer business

176 Millionpints throughput per year

18,000pints of beer equivalent delivered per day

2strategically placed fully alcohol bonded warehouses

Asahi UK Ltd (formerly Miller Brands UK) is the UK subsidiary of Asahi Europe Ltd and is committed to offering best in class customer service and industry leading Super Premium Beer. With an authentic portfolio of Super Premium Beer brands, which include: Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell and Kozel, Asahi UK looks to its distribution discipline, supplemented by engaging and innovative marketing activities, to drive value into the beer category.

So how does Howard Tenens help Asahi UK achieve its objectives?

Here Kate Kajzer, Logistics Manager and Iain Harris, Head of Supply Chain Operations of Asahi UK, John Sandalls, General Manager and Jamie Hartles, Logistics Director of Howard Tenens share their thoughts on the importance of communication, partnership, flexibility, and a premium supply chain solution.

Iain: When the contract opportunity first arose for Howard Tenens we were in a very different place as an organisation. We were in the ‘world beer’ market and we, like many other businesses, saw supply chain as a cost centre and therefore something to be minimised. It’s fair to say however, that over the last 12 months our position has changed dramatically. We have moved to a Super Premium market position and have required our supply chain partners to keep up.

Kate: We have moved the goal posts quite rapidly. It’s not about cost now, it’s about facilitating the supply of additional beer through outstanding customer service and experience. And our 3PL partners are essential in helping us deliver this.An outcome of this has been that we have seen first-hand that you don’t have to focus on cost to get the best cost. It’s more about changing the perspective and looking at increasingly innovative ways to plan and manage the supply chain element.

Jamie: We have spent a lot of time with Asahi UK over the last year looking at processes for improvement. Taking a fresh approach to challenges and accepting that sometimes even the smallest change can have a huge impact.

With Asahi UK going through such a transformational phase and with a clear vision in place, it has been essential that everyone involved in delivering the brand experience understands the objectives. And what better way to get this perspective than to have ‘feet on the ground’ client side.

Iain: It’s so important to us that everyone understands our journey and sees the bigger picture that we are working towards. To achieve this, we have worked together on several dedicated initiatives, one of which being a secondment programme. A member of the Howard Tenens team came and joined us for 6 months to help with a maternity cover contract and this is probably when the real partnership started to develop. This insider experience really helped Howard Tenens better understand our needs and requests. After this initial secondment, they had first-hand experience of specific aspects of our account and this has directly helped improve performance and reduce returns issues.

John: This was so mutually beneficial that we are now running a second secondment programme where one of our team is working on site for a contracted period. The insight gained helps us become even more responsive to their needs.

Having someone work with us at a grass roots level has really helped – it’s been extremely powerful.


Jamie: The internship has delivered great insights for everyone and I believe that this visibility has made a real difference to the service Asahi receive and the day to day support that we can deliver. If we couple this with our ongoing management meetings, we can start to see how every department with responsibility for Asahi UK, has real-time, up to date information and feedback about the account. Every month we have meetings which include the client team plus colleagues from transport, warehousing and client services. Couple this with dedicated points of contact for day to day support, communication becomes more efficient and the outcomes are clearly measurable.

Asahi UK is a values-led organisation with a strong belief in teamwork, empowerment and the development of its people. This culture is evident all the way through the supply chain and, thanks to a number of dedicated partnership initiatives, can be evidenced at every stage of the product journey. From receipt of goods at the dedicated warehouse in Tilbury, through to each and every single delivery to the customer, Asahi UK works tirelessly to keep the sentiment of Super Premium alive.

Kate: We want everyone who experiences our brands to understand their value and premium positioning. Peroni Nastro Azzurro has been a key driver in the growth of the UK Super Premium sector and accounts for more than a quarter of the London beer market. As such we want to help everyone in the supply chain share the passion and pride that we have in this and all our brands and that’s why we have held Engagement Sessions with their staff. We wanted them to know more about our brands, to pass on the message of genuine, import quality beer and help them understand how their roles are critical to the overall customer experience. For example, the warehouse teams and the drivers are our last line of defence against poor delivery experience. Accordingly, we have said to the warehouse staff that if they don’t like the look of a pallet don’t pick it; don’t let that go to the customer.

John: This empowerment given to our teams is just another example of the very open, transparent and trusting relationship that we have. Of course, with every account, quality of picking and packing is of supreme importance, but the very proactive, involved nature of the Asahi UK team pays dividends and showcases how great things can happen when every function and role is recognised. The sessions have been so successful that Asahi UK now runs them every 3 months with our teams.

Jamie: The Asahi UK team are remarkable in their readiness to get involved. Both Kate and Iain have undertaken site visits to meet with the people who pick and pack, and the drivers who transport their products to their customers. I know that both Iain and Kate have come and presented to our teams throughout the night just so that we could work the sessions around shifts. Because of their involvement and visibility we now have real Asahi Brand Champions working on their account.

As with all businesses across every industry, Asahi UK is putting huge focus on the way in which they and the supply chain, can use emerging technologies to further enhance the customer experience. Following significant investment in digital order processing and tracking, the Asahi team see this as being a key area of development over the coming months and years.

Meeting customer demand and delivering against expectations are key to the ongoing position and success of the Asahi customer experience, but the team is committed to taking this one step further in a bid to retain their Super Premium position in the marketplace.

Kate: We want to make sure that we are ahead of the curve when it comes to appropriate technologies and we will be increasingly looking to all our supply chain partners to provide a new level of real time tracking and transparency across the fleet.

Iain: Our current challenge is to determine how we can become the brand that sets the trend rather than follows it when it comes to supply. We want to redefine the expectation for our customers, set a new benchmark for service standards and delivery, and most importantly call upon our expertise and that of all our partners to retain our position as Super Premium. Once we have formalised how we tell the story to our customers, I think Howard Tenens will be well placed to help us deliver.

John: We are very clear about the need to further evolve our IT infrastructure and look at emerging technologies so that we can go to the team with solutions for the immediate future. Looking ahead, we are committed to becoming a transformational 3PL partner and using our strengths to help Asahi UK keep that essential premium positioning in the eyes of their own customers and the broader beer market in general.

Jamie: I’m immensely proud of the position we now find ourselves in with Asahi UK. This key account is one which proves the power of open and honest communication, flexibility and a dedication to getting it right. From the start of the contract, when we were able to secure a warehousing solution at Tilbury providing a true 3PL solution, to the present where we continually investigate new ways to innovate and support the service promise they have made to their customers; our relationship has evolved into a well performing partnership.