Irish supermarket chain Superquinn has seen on-shelf availability soar from 94.5% to 98% in the last 18 months.

This follows the opening of its centralised distribution centre (CDC), the result of a e38m investment in Blanchardstown in January 2002. The CDC is operated by the logistics and delivery firm Wincanton and has two warehouses for ambient and chilled stock.

Superquinn supply chain manager Declan Carolan said the move towards centralised distribution was intended “to reduce the level of out of stocks and maximise sales”.

He said: “We know that, by making sure our products are available on the shelves, we will minimise the need for our customers to look elsewhere.”

Carolan added the CDC enabled him to up deliveries to six times a week but with fewer products in each delivery. This meant the group was able to operate more effectively and protect its supply lines. The range and freshness of the products was also improved - something that “would not have been possible without taking cost out of the supply chain”. For instance, most of the chicken killed today will be on the shelves tomorrow.

There had previously been concerns about the lack of central control of distribution and poor flow of information with suppliers. “With daily deliveries to the back of each store, congestion was becoming a problem and there was no system in place for measuring the performance of individual suppliers,” Carolan said.

However, he said that factory gate pricing was not yet an issue since supply levels were not high enough.