Foodstuffs North Island transforms operations

Learn how Foodstuffs North Island brought together eight distribution centres and depots and transformed their processes for safer, more efficient operations – all without loss to supply and customer service.    

Key results achieved: 

  • Successful transition to new purpose-built Landing Drive Distribution Centre 
  • 360 team members onboarded to a standardised, more efficient process 
  • A new warehouse management system implemented without incident 
  • Better oversight for packing and distribution efficiencies  
  • 444 suppliers transitioned and 30,000 pallets transferred over just 16 weeks 
  • The implementation of a new operating model, revised team and leadership structure and an increase in engagement levels  
  • Company-wide buy-in across the transition and willing adoption of new systems and operations 

FR@NK Lead: Beena Doolabh 


If you’ve shopped at a supermarket in New Zealand, then you’ll be familiar with the great work by the people at Foodstuffs – a proudly Kiwi organisation employing some 30,000 people nationwide across beloved and trusted brands including Pak’nSave, New World, Four Square, Gilmours, and Liquorland. 

While the organisation has continually evolved to meet changing grocery and liquor customer needs over the last century, aging and dated distribution centres and legacy operations were creating inefficiencies across Foodstuffs North Island’s (FSNI) operations.  

So began an ambitious project in 2013: the centralisation of grocery distribution across the upper North Island with a new purpose-built distribution centre that coincided with an innovative Warehouse Management System to better help distribution teams. 

With massive change already underway, Jonathan Box, GM of Supply Chain for Foodstuffs North Island, understood that staff buy-in would be critical for this project. He reached out to FR@NK’s People Transformation Lead Beena Doolabh for her expertise. 

Introducing Landing Drive Distribution Centre (LDDC) 

With the new purpose-built ambient distribution centre at Landing Drive came a need to update and replace legacy software and overhaul the Warehouse Management Systems that had evolved over nearly 100 years of Foodstuffs’ operations.  

Given the significant complexities for the teams  dealing with a change in location, leadership, equipment, system, process, and ways of working, the Supply Chain leadership team asked for FR@NK to assist with a wider change piece. This would ensure the team were prepared for what was to come and that FSNI kept a competitive advantage throughout the process of transitioning to a wholly upgraded set of systems and processes. 

As Jonathan explains, “There’s a lot of work overcoming the intolerances in [legacy] systems. We had a significant challenge for Beena: helping team members get familiar with the systems and adopt them willingly, and embedding the behaviours to operate effectively.” 

Adopting, adapting, and innovating   

Beena concentrated on integrating change management practices throughout the programme, with a strong focus on people. To do so, we needed to understand what was changing for them, develop strong relationships with all stakeholders early on, prepare them for what was to come, and ensure they were supported throughout. This was all about people impact, engagement, and quality delivery. 

FR@NK developed a strategy that would work closely with stakeholders at all levels; we facilitated workshops, provided design and planning support, delivered change management coaching and training to develop change and leadership skills from the ground up, and executed a solid change and project plan to ensure a successful transition. 

The risks – and rewards – of transformation at scale 

It’s hard not to underestimate the ‘perfect storm’ of challenges for FSNI with this transformation.  

FSNI were looking at going from eight independent distribution centres to one, with the last stage of the system roll-out just prior to Christmas 2020 (the busiest time of year!).  

“Nearly every physical transition comes with a dip in service that affects performance and growth during a change,” explains Jonathan. “At this scale – and expense – you can imagine the challenges, not least of all among them maintaining a high quality of execution, fast delivery, and keeping costs reasonable and shelves stocked.” 

Three mock go-lives were conducted, each analysed for their effectiveness and the learnings taken on board for the final push. FR@NK developed plans, reports and processes that made clear each day’s expectations well in advance. And because of the focus on agility, the team were well placed to pivot and adapt to changing circumstances whilst still ensuring successful execution. 

As Jonathan notes, “all the right controls and professional disciplines were in place from the beginning. We were well prepared to confront and escalate the right way when things, people, processes, or external factors went wrong, and to ensure all partners were delivering.” 

Realising a success 

A successful Change Approach for Foodstuffs would see: 

  • Less resistance to internal change 
  • Company-wide buy-in across the transition 
  • Willing adoption of new systems and operations 
  • Fewer interruptions and delays at store level 
  • Increased customer satisfaction and product security 
  • More efficient operations 
  • An improved competitive edge for Foodstuffs, especially in the greater Auckland region. 

It’s been a long journey to the new LDDC but working with FR@NK has been a success through and through, says Jonathan. 

“We’ve never once had a system outage or downtime caused by the new WMS at Landing Drive. Through the whole period across Christmas – including stock transfers – to today, we’ve never had a problem. That 16-week journey has been without interruption. 

“I would say the project and implementation have been as close to flawless as it’s possible to be.”