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Case Study Intersport: Behind the scenes – event logistics

Major events – whether sporting, musical, or otherwise – are easy to enjoy, but hard to plan. Drawing on his experience managing the merchandising logistics for the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship in Switzerland, RF Supply Chain Expertise CEO Reto Fuhrer explores some of the key components of event logistics.

With the Australian Open in full swing, thousands of spectators from interstate and overseas are flocking to Melbourne for one of the nation’s premier sporting experiences.

But the apparently seamless operation is undergirded by a highly sophisticated logistical operation.

Scheduling players and court times is a relatively minor consideration in the scheme of things. How does one coordinate everything else that goes into making a successful sporting – or any other major – event?

In 2008, as Head of Logistics for Intersport (Switzerland), I was tasked with managing the merchandising event logistics in Switzerland for the UEFA European Football Championship, hosted in Switzerland and Austria.

As the logistics manager, I was responsible for overseeing all logistics processes around setting up venues and ensuring there was always enough merchandising material on hand.

This was no small feat, as there were four stadiums involved in the tournament, each containing ten shops to organise – as well as two mega stores in Basel and Zurich (1000m2 each). Additionally, there was a retail network of 130 shops, 16 public viewing arenas organized by UBS, and rail stations that also needed to be set up and stocked with the right merchandise.

As in all domains of supply chain management – planning well ahead was vital to success.

Planning and overseeing the sourcing, designing, contracting of suppliers for the merchandise, labour hire, short-term warehousing and distribution, and ERP system implementation – as well as physically setting up the shops within the stadiums – required two years’ preparation to effectively execute.

Furthermore, serious forward planning was essential for dealing with the short-term decisions that arose as the Championship unfolded.

For example, one of the biggest challenges I faced was the fact that the merchandise was driven by the nations that were playing, and which progressed or were eliminated in each round. After the group stage and each elimination final, the merchandise had to move to the right point of sale (POS). Additionally, match day merchandising (for example, an Italy vs. Belgium scarf made for a specific match) had to be quickly printed and shipped from Eastern Europe to stadiums within 48 hours and delivered to the POS within a window of two hours, otherwise it would have been too late to enter the stadiums and sold to attendees. The tight timeline and unpredictability of the matches made it a challenge to manage. Happily, the team of 200 I oversaw was able to deliver.

As we look forward to greater and varied events throughout Australia – including the 2032 Brisbane Olympics – the importance of proper planning and management of event logistics cannot be underestimated.

If your organisation needs assistance in planning and executing a complex logistics operation for an upcoming event, touch base with RF Supply Chain Expertise team today.

To connect with CEO Reto Fuhrer on LinkedIn, click here.

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