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Supply Chain

M&S deploys AI-based platform to manage supply across 1,000+ grocery stores

by Ben Wodecki
Article ImageThis is not just AI-based supply chain management; this is M&S AI-based supply chain management

British retail giant Marks & Spencer is enlisting Relex Solutions' AI-based tools to aid the management of its online food deliveries and warehouses.

Relex began deploying its platform across M&S Food’s 1,050 stores and 13 distribution centers in the UK last month, aiming to smooth the supermarket’s online delivery flow.

“Relex is an important part of our vision of modernizing the end-to-end supply chain. We very much look forward to achieving exceptional results as a result of this project,” said George Wright, commercial director at M&S Food.

Modernizing management

Relex said its cloud-native Living Retail Platform will help M&S bring awareness of store shelf space into supply chain planning – while also reducing food waste.

The Finnish tech firm’s software generates forecasts on products and items using internal brand data, and can factor in external data from events like holidays or weather forecasts to determine demand planning.

Relex’s existing customers include German brand Rewe, Russian food retailer Magnit, and French company Auchen.

“We have a strong cultural fit with M&S, and our track record in grocery and fresh is very well matched to M&S Food’s strategic objectives,” Relex CEO Mikko Kärkkäinen said.

“This is the start of an exciting partnership that will enable M&S Food to run the most advanced fresh supply chain within the UK grocery market.”

M&S has been looking to modernize its services, moving away from its traditional clothing store business to focus on more profitable luxury food sales.

Its fashion stores made only £3.2 billion ($4.45 billion) last year, with its food stores earning almost double that, reaching £6 billion ($8.34 billion) in sales, according to the company’s revenue figures.

M&S has already aligned itself with warehouse automation giant Ocado, snatching the partnership away from retail rival Waitrose, and allowing Ocado to become the most valuable food retailer on the London Stock Exchange.

Ocado said its sales increased by 41.9 percent following its deal with M&S. The luxury food retailer’s 50/50 joint venture with the logistics firm will see it benefit from Ocado’s recent investment in autonomous vehicle developer Oxbotica, as the pair intend to collaborate on hardware and software interfaces for autonomous delivery vehicles.

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