Logistics Case Study: Landmark Group, Dubai

A look at the retail giant's successful Middle East supply chain.
Landmark group, ANALYSIS

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As one of the most successful retailers in the Middle East, the Landmark Group has developed a supply chain that is the envy of rivals throughout the region.

Founded back in the 1970s with a single store in Bahrain, the Landmark Group has emerged as one of the Middle East's most successful retailers, with over 900 stores across the region, in addition to countries such as India, Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt.

"We provide a value-driven product range for the entire family," explains Vipin Sethi, CEO of Landmark Group. "Quality is not a question of price for our company. Across our retail concepts, we strive to provide value at every price point."

Diversity has obviously played a fundamental role in developing the Landmark Group's market-leading position, with a portfolio that covers footwear and accessories (Shoe Mart), fashion (Splash), children's clothing (Baby Shop), furniture (Home Centre and Q Home Décor) and home décor (Lifestyle). Even outside of retail, the group has interests in everything from indoor entertainment centres for children to speciality good offerings and even budget hotels. "Our various offerings have evolved into the preferred choice for consumers and have become category killers," continues Sethi.

While a number of chief executives have made similar claims about their brands in the Middle East, the fact that Landmark Group has achieved a consistent annual growth rate of 25% is perfect support to Sethi's assertion about the company, which currently employs around 31,000 personnel in total.

Further evidence is provided by the numerous trophies that decorate his office, including Retailer of the Year from the Retail City Awards to the Business Excellence Award in the re-export category at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Awards.

"With so much activity within the Landmark Group, our supply chain operations must be efficient. The products are sent to the Middle East from across the world, with a particular focus on India, China, Hong Kong and Indonesia," states Sethi, who has a refreshing knowledge of supply chain issues.

"We use a combination of different transportation modes. The majority arrives by sea freight, although airfreight is used for high-priority movements, based on criticality of the shipments. The use of roads is based on the feasibility and nature of cargo being moved. For instance, road transport is avoided for fragile cargo movement to ensure no in-transit damages are caused to our merchandise."

Once the products arrive in the region, they are transported to one of the Landmark Group's growing number of logistics facilities, including a regional distribution centre (RDC), central distribution centre (CDC) in Jebel Ali Free Zone, and origin consolidated freight stations (CFS).

"Our facilities are located across the Middle East and each warehouse is equipped with modern storage equipment and material handling solutions, which have been acquired from market leaders such as Famco," continues Sethi. "This includes everything from multi-level racking, VNA racking and selective racking to electric forklifts, reach trucks and hand pallet trolleys. Our operations are also supported by Oracle WMS for real-time visibility of inventory, assisting us to make the required decisions."

Landmark Group has opted for a combined in-house and 3PL model to manage its supply chain operations. "This helps us in serving our customers better. Transportation is outsourced at all our locations as it gives us the flexibility to manage our business volumes. Our inter-GCC movement contracts are door-to-door, which means our service providers handle transportation and border clearances efficiently," explains Sethi. "Our warehousing operation is done in-house as the necessary infrastructure and skills have been developed by us to specifically cater to the group's growing needs."

The executive admits that, like any growing organisation, Landmark Group has grappled with various supply chain challenges at various times. Much of this has centred about developing the right infrastructure at the right time to handle the growth in business and volumes. In addition, his logistics team has worked tirelessly to meet country specific regulations and requirements on product standards and documentation.

"This is critical as it impacts the lead times of product delivery from the point-of-origin to the point-of-consumption," he maintains. "We also have challenges such as port congestion and
border congestion impacting transit lead times, in addition to inflationary pressures which drive up the supply chain cost."

Sethi is evidently proud that Landmark Group's supply chain has proved a success is battling these challenges. And with high ambitions to develop the group even further in the coming years, there are various initiatives in place to continue strengthening its logistics processes.

"There are three key stages to our supply chain development plan. Firstly, we will continually evaluate and modify the network design to ensure minimum lead times and cost," he explains. "Secondly, we will invest in state-of-the-art IT systems for efficiency and effectiveness in operations. And finally, we have a dedicated supply chain process improvement cell, which is responsible for benchmarking the best supply chain practices around the world and implementing it in Landmark. With these three factors, I am confidence our supply chain will continue to support all growth predictions for the coming years."

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