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Interview: Simon Finch, distribution director at Harrods, talks about the need for supply chain transformation


When it comes to having a supply chain fit for the future add-ons and quick fixes are no longer enough. At Harrods, the retailer is going back to basics with a supply chain transformation project which will see it deliver a supply chain fit for today and for the future demands yet to come.
Simon Finch, distribution director at Harrods, will be revealing more about the project at the eDelivery Expo (EDX) on April 5 in a keynote opening address. Ahead of the conference caught up with him to find out more:

For Harrods transformation is key to enabling a business that can manage both current and future demands, according to Harrods’ distribution director Simon Finch. “As an organisation, you need to put yourself in the right place to enable you to survive and thrive in what is the toughest time for retailers in their history,” he says.

“For us, from a Harrods perspective, we’ve got loads of fantastic heritage but that can almost be a barrier for us in terms of making sure we are able to operate in the best way going forward, given the pace of change,” says Finch.

“As an organisation we had to almost break it all down and start again – what’s our story line and what are the future operational requirements that we need to deliver a strategy that delivers those capabilities? It’s about looking at all considerations and then determining how you build your omnichannel operating model of the future,” he says. “It’s like going back to the start of retailing when you are building a store or distribution centre and you check you have got enough doors and lifts. It’s taking that physical concept and taking it to a virtual understanding of what your supply chain needs to offer,” he says.

And that involves fundamental change. “It’s not just about the customer wanting a new delivery proposition or reducing cut-off times, it’s about engaging with them in a different way, for example delivery drivers waiting while you try stuff on. It’s about building a fundamental supply chain capability that enables that to happen and to happen in a way that provides the ultimate in customer experience and is economic and scalable,” says Finch.

Such change requires support and investment throughout the organisation however. “It’s about having the business energy and business commitment to be willing to do that because it isn’t just about putting in a new bit of technology somewhere – collaboration both internally and with partners is critical,” he says.

And it also requires an understanding that it won’t be easy, warns Finch. “Today is a time of the greatest change we have seen so far – from both the customer perspective and competitors. It’s almost easier to start from scratch than to adapt a supply chain built for bricks and mortar to suit how we need to operate for the future. However that is what must be done and it requires the vision and the hard work,” says Finch. “It’s not easy, it’s not always fun and it’s a long journey but it’s never been as important as it is today,” he says.

See Simon Finch, distribution director at Harrods, present ‘Supply Chain Transformation – the Vision and the Hard Yards at the Final Mile conference at eDelivery Expo. To find out more about the show and register for free, visit

Image credit: Harrods

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