Made possible by Majaco

Helping SH Pratt Group to move bananas more efficiently.

Client

SH Pratt Group

Sector

Logistics & supply chain

Type

Planning & labour control

Length

12 months

Toby Parnell, director of Majaco
Talk to Toby
toby@majaco.co.uk
SH Pratt Group has really stood the test of time. They started out as a small fruit importing business in 1947. Now, they’re one of the UK’s biggest importers and distributors of bananas.

It’s a family business in the truest sense. The CEO, Robert Wells, is both the son of the original founder, Robert ‘Bob’ Wells, and the father of our lead partner onsite – whose name is (you guessed it) Robert Wells. SH Pratt has roughly 300 employees and supplies bananas to some of the UK’s biggest retail chains. Their working relationship with Tesco, for example, has lasted over 30 years.

Reduced the cost of any manual processing of bananas

by 18%

Reduced the cost of all pallet processing

by 25%

How we did it

The challenge: boosting profits after a long period of growth

Fruit importers work on tight margins. Economic conditions were steadily increasing SH Pratt’s overheads and cutting into their profits. Having enjoyed significant long-term growth, they knew there would be operational efficiencies to find – and they saw this as the best way to continue their success and grow their bottom line.

The business has grown steadily over a long period and can’t really grow much more. To have a vibrant, efficient and sustainable business, we needed to self-examine in areas that had stayed untouched for a long time.
– Robert Wells, CEO

SH Pratt’s leadership understood that getting a fresh perspective from outside experts would be the best way to increase efficiency. But this was a long-standing family business, with many long-serving experts running its operations. So winning hearts and minds would be the first challenge.

The approach: getting everyone onboard and maximising output

We embedded ourselves within the SH Pratt team and engaged at all levels of the business. This involved plenty of hours on the shop floor, speaking to all the people who knew the nuances of day-to-day operations in the most detail.

Majaco engaged the whole team, from the board to the shop floor. The way they engaged broke down barriers and got results quickly.” 
– David Bateman, COO

After mapping out the company’s operations in full, we implemented numerous changes to boost efficiency. Over a nine-month project we:

  • Taught the manual processing management how to dynamically line balance in response to changing products to maximise productivity (measured in cases per labour hour)
  • Worked with the on-site engineering team to improve the ergonomics of the manual handling stations, making it easier and faster to process bananas
  • Smoothed the inbound and outbound Loadplan to remove spikes in the  demand for labour, which in turn made it easier to plan and resource
  • Created a dynamic labour model that allowed the business to flex the number of people working each day to better match the demand. This resulted in an increased utilisation of the workforce, lowering the cost per unit
  • Decoupled quality assurance from the on-the-day outloading process to create a predictable workload for the following day
  • Made roles multiskilled, which made it easier to balance capacity and demand 
  • Created a suite of Metrics and a Management Control and Reporting System (MCRS) that enabled all levels of the organisation to speak the same language when looking at site performance
  • Supported a management restructure that empowered the shop floor and allowed the SLT to focus on longer term objectives

The result: cost reductions that dwarfed the consultancy fees

We were able to make significant reductions in cost in the two main areas of expense in the business, so what did this mean for SH Pratt? Overall, the project delivered savings in excess of three times the fee. And the project was cash positive within five months of starting, i.e. there was a net PnL benefit in year one. We also co-designed a plan for SH Pratt to deliver further savings that will amount to four times the fee.

“Majaco were easy to work with because they were always listening. We missed them sometimes when they weren’t onsite. They became part of our business.”
Shahida Mohammed, CFO
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