East Sweden

Stadium keeps people and goods in constant motion

Despite Stadium’s Norrköping background, it was never self-evident that it was precisely here that its central warehouse would be built. But when thorough analyses and advanced academic calculations clearly showed that the sports retail chain’’s best location for its logistics was in East Sweden, no one was disappointed. The central warehouse is the vibrant heart of the company’s operations, and supplies more than 150 shops with goods in a constantly pulsating flow.

This small family business from Norrköping has grown into what is today the Nordic region’s leading sports chain store.  Its progress has gone at a furious pace. Stadium develops its business with the same driving force and passion that they want to instil in their customers to pursue an active lifestyle. In a very short time, Stadium has opened a large number of new stores in Sweden, Finland and Denmark and now has its expansion sights set on Hamburg, Germany. To succeed, you need an optimum warehousing and logistics solution. Stadium’s tailor-made central warehouse, its geographical location with its large catchment area and great infrastructure is a perfect starting point for Stadium’s plans for continued growth.

A world of goods

Logistics Manager Daniel Johansson’s eyes shine when he enthusiastically talks about what he calls “the world’s most beautiful central warehouse”. The process of building Stadium’s 32,000 square metre, specially designed central warehouse started in 2005 and by 2006, it was already in operation. An additional 11,000 square metres were completed during 2013.  In the thousands of shelves, from floor to ceiling, just about everything an active person could ever need in terms of products is stored. There is clothing for all weathers, and everything from colourful shoelaces to advanced fitness equipment.  From here, just over 1.5 million packages are sent each year and over 35 million products pass through the building. The goods come partly from Stadium’s own suppliers in the Far East and partly from brandname suppliers in various parts of Europe. 80% of the products are warehoused and 20% go directly to the retail stores via automated replenishment processes.

Precision-controlled and flexible goods flows

With an extremely varied and rich product portfolio and 150 shops all across the Nordic region, Stadium is dependent on having precisely the right product, in the right location, at the right time. Customer demand is needs-based and fluctuates depending on the weather, family allowances, pay and the season. If it suddenly starts to snow unexpectedly one evening in October, little sledges and long underwear must be in the shops in the blink of an eye. It must be possible to precision-control the many goods flows, and the logistics must be extremely flexible. The central warehouse solution in Norrköping enables precisely this, but things have not always been like this.

From pen and paper to modern automation

When Daniel Johansson began as the warehouse coordinator at Stadium in 2001, they were still working with ‘paper-and-pen logistics’. The chain consisted of around 60 shops and each unit had its own small inventory. Since they wereusing different logistics solutions depending on how much business they were doing, this manual system worked reasonably up until around 2005. It then became clear that cost-effectiveness and inventory turnover needed to be adjusted to achieve profitability in conjunction with expansion.  In the shops, the staff wanted to focus on customers, and not to not spend time on managing and controlling the flow of goods. And in true Stadium form, they made changes with a vengeance. They decided to build their own high-tech warehouse facility that could bring together all the product flows and cope with a future expansion of the retail chain to include the Nordic countries and parts of Europe. The blueprint showed a gigantic building. But where to locate it?

The best place for the business

Of course there were the soft values like tradition and in particular the staff to take into account when Stadium was looking for Sweden’s best location in terms of transport. But it was in no way self-evident that Stadium would not move its operations. ”We were open to all suggestions, in different parts of the country. However much we wanted to stay on our home turf, we had to give first priority to our long-term profitability,” explains Daniel. Stadium enlisted the aid of Linköping University to carry out a focus assessment on rapid and cost-effective distribution based on where the shops were located and where they would be located in the future. It turned out that Stadium’s best location from the business point of view was just outside Norrköping.

It’s no coincidence that Santa Claus lives in Finspång

Daniel notes with a smile that the choice of Nörrköping proved to be the right one. “Besides cost-effectiveness and speed, we also have access to good staff. Many of them have specific expertise in inventory, transport and logistics. In addition, we have every opportunity to use different modes of transport, for both incoming and outgoing flows. From our location, we deliver to 80% of all our shops already the next day. To our most northerly shops and certain locations in the Nordic region, on day 2.” East Sweden in fact has a great location for this type of activity. Within a radius of 400 km are 80 per cent of Sweden’s customers and the communications the other Nordic countries are excellent. It can hardly be closer or more efficient. “It’s no coincidence Statistics Sweden has calculated that, in order to make all his deliveries, Santa Claus actually lives in Finspång,” laughs Daniel.

With its heart in the right place

Its logistics solution in Norrköping is one of Stadium’s foremost competitive advantages. A prerequisite in fact for continued success.  Products from around 300 suppliers converge here, are sorted and flow on in the cycle of 150 stores, fast and cost-effectively. Daniel Johansson’s concluding words are like business poetry. “Our central warehouse is quite simply the heart in our entire flow. The most important muscle that pumps day and night and supplies it with oxygen. We could not have chosen a better place for it to beat.”

Text: Marie Karlsson, Copy & Writing
Photo: Ida Ling Flanagan, IdaDesign