Sandwich retailer, EAT, which BB last August revealed had plans to double the number of outlets from 100 to 200 within three to five years, has revamped its chilled distributions to cope with worries over sudden failures in distribution of products to its stores.

The move was in response to "the immediate risks threatening our distribution network," says Guy Harvey, finance director for EAT. The chain, which operates its own central kitchen, distributes products overnight, to ensure maximum freshness, and serves sandwiches, salads, soup, pies and coffee through its retail outlets.

Logistics consultancy Davies & Robson helped with the distribution tender to provide a system capable of ensuring a reliable chilled delivery service to stores. Davies & Robson worked with EAT to prepare a contingency plan that would allow the operation to continue uninterrupted in the event of the existing service being unexpectedly withdrawn.

As a result, Gist was appointed to establish and operate a National Distribution Centre at its Hemel Hempstead facility. Pre-picked product is received from EAT’s central kitchen in Wembley and milk directly from a third-party supplier. Gist is responsible for sorting cages into vehicle routes and for picking the milk to cages against delivery outlet orders.

Direct deliveries are made by Gist to EAT outlets in the south east while, for the remainder of the country, product is trunked to a national network with cross-docking facilities for onward delivery by local delivery vehicles. Deliveries to retail outlets are undertaken at night, using vehicles fitted with tail hoists to ensure the availability of fresh product when the stores open.