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Academics lead growth workshop with Welsh drinks sector

8 December 2016

Cardiff University academics delivered a joint CO-Growth (Collaborative Operations for Growth) workshop with WRAP Cymru.

The Co-Growth project, established by Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Dr Maneesh Kumar, Dr Irina Harris of Cardiff Business School, aims to identify, model and enable the application of collaborative opportunities among Welsh drinks producers with the purpose of achieving green and low-investment growth for the sector.

Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Dr Maneesh Kumar, Dr Irina Harris (from Cardiff Business School), Dr Martin Chorley (from the School of Computer Science & Informatics) and WRAP Cymru’s Hugh Jones led the workshop, which was held on Friday 16 September 2016 at the Big Pit Museum, with the support of Drinks Wales, SIBA and the Welsh Government’s Food Division.

The event brought together representatives from the Welsh drinks sector with more than 20 participants present, including producers and wider supply chain stakeholder organisations.  This was an opportunity to share best practice, discuss collective challenges and consider ways in which to address them.

Participants heard from a diverse range of presenters providing an academic, practitioner and policy view of the drinks industry – its contemporary and future status. There was a focus on improving coordination and collaboration with the purpose of achieving more sustainable growth.

  • Dr Martin Chorley and Dr Irina Harris got proceedings underway, introducing participants to the most recent research undertaken by the University related to the customer demand analyses and supply chain strategies deployed by SMEs in Wales.
  • Buster Grant from Drinks Wales highlighted the current challenges the Welsh drinks sector is facing and potential strategies which the sector needs to take going forward.
  • Phillip Lewis presented the business model and practices applied by Felinfoel Brewery which include co-distribution of beer with other breweries and a business model based on ownership of pubs.
  • Dorian Davies from the Welsh Government Food Division delivered a presentation on the Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014–2020, outlining its objectives and how these contribute to the delivery of the goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
  • Hugh Jones from WRAP Cymru presented a series of case studies on resource efficiency and guidance on waste prevention in the drinks sector.
  • Bill Dobson from SA Brain delivered a presentation on best practices adopted by Brains on waste and resource reduction.
  • Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry Association’s (BFBI) Ruth Evans discussed a co-ordinated waste management approach between breweries and animal stock farmers which has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions and waste and bring economic value from used materials within the sector.

The event culminated with a focus group activity facilitated by Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues and Dr Maneesh Kumar. The attendees worked in groups to identify and discuss the main factors affecting collaboration and the main enablers driving collaboration among Welsh drinks producers.

The data gathered from the focus group was later analysed by the Cardiff University team and showed that the main factors (preconditions) which can ensure effective collaboration are: Alignment – seeking a collaborative arrangement for mutual benefit; Systems and Procedures – having the right systems in place, including quality assurance systems and ICT systems; and Confidence among collaborative parties – trust and desire to change.

Enablers were identified as: Knowledge sharing & transfer – this includes knowledge sharing & transfer among drinks producers with the purpose of improving quality assurance standards and production practices adopted by Welsh drinks producers as well as a better promotion of Welsh beer internationally. Also, sharing and learning from best practices by visiting companies outside the drinks sector was considered important to improve efficiency and supply chain practices; Effective supply chain – having common hubs and ICT platforms to achieve better coordination in the Welsh drinks sector; and established cost agreements – agreement on trade arrangements between drinks producers, improving the financial credibility of Welsh drinks producers and having cash fund incentives to encourage more collaboration within the Welsh drinks sector.

Dr Sanchez Rodrigues said of the event: “This was a great start to engage with like-minded Welsh drinks producers and start a fruitful journey with the aim to generate applied research on effective supply chain coordination for sustainable growth.  I’d like to thank the many delegates who attended and the speakers who shared their expertise, insight and experience with us.  What the day has proved is that providing key preconditions are addressed and enablers are in place, effective supply chain co-ordination among Welsh drinks producers is a real possibility.”

For further details on the CO-GROWTH project please contact Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues.

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