Putting S&OP on the Fast Track

A.T. Cross was facing inventory management and demand forecasting challenges that threatened to stall growth and profitability. The solution: a fast-track S&OP initiative that resolved disconnects in planning processes, dramatically reduced finished goods inventory, sustained service levels, and lowered supply chain costs.

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A.T. Cross, maker of A.T. Cross brand pens and other fine writing instruments and accessories, has been transforming itself and its product lines over the last few years. Between 2005 and 2007, the company completed a fundamental overhaul of its product line, bringing award-winning and innovative designs to market and breathing new life into a once old and tradition-bound product line.

As part of this transformation, A.T. Cross introduced 25 percent of its product mix as innovation, built a growing direct-to-consumer business, and opened new geographical regions through the U.S., Europe, and Asia. During this same period, it also moved its manufacturing and assembly operations from Lincoln, R.I., headquarters to a company-owned plant in China.

This aggressive transformation began paying off. The company experienced steady growth in a flat-to-declining market, and its new products and channel expansion promised an even more profitable future. By late 2007, however, inventory levels and product/channel complexity led to significant inventory imbalances. Thrust into the realities of managing a global supply chain, fast-moving, on-demand, consumer goods market, management realizes that the longer supply chain and historic planning practices brought with them a distinct set of challenges.

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