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Kuehne + Nagel is set to become the largest food and beverage contract logistics service provider in the UK after winning a deal to take control the Sprit Pub Company’s supply chain in what it described as a “long-term deal”.

The decision of the one of Britain’s largest pub groups – it demerged from Punch Taverns last September and now owns 800 pubs and manages another 500, and includes the Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square, Taylor Walker, Flaming Grill and John Barras brands – to completely outsource ist logistics was a sign that the food and drinks service industry is moving away from “traditional wholesaler deliveries” and into the arms of the 3PLs, said KN’s north-west Europe contract logsitcis sales manager John Hartley.

Speaking at the company’s annual results presentation in London this week, Hartley said that 3PLs allow customers such as Spirit the chance to “tailor their logistics”.

“This is a market trend. We will see further moves into the 3PL model and away from the traditional wholesaler delivery model,” he said.

It’s a big contract, no question: 24 hours, six days a week, and will involve 300 KN staff and 60 vehicles. Along with the Whitebread contract that KN initially won in 2008 and acted as its entry pointo into the UK’s food and drinks sector, KN will now be making around 100 separate deliveries on the two contracts per hour.

KN entered the sector in 2007 when it invested in its Wellingborough site in advance of winning the Whitebread deal, which now constitutes some 25% of the facility’s throughput. Hartley said that it won that contract “on the basis that Whitebread had huge growth plans, which they have achieved”.

The obvious implication is for the haulage contractors of food wholesalers because the 3PL approach is substantially different o simply delivering goods in bulk from seller to buyer.

“Spirit Pubs has a a view of service that is aligned with our own – it’s all about critical service levels, and you have to understand that the supply chain exists right through fro  wholesaler to the customer sitting there with a menu in front of them.”

The contract is currently in its implementation phase, with go-live scheduled for May.

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