This paper has focused on the supply chain management issues of Unilever. The overall supply chain management (SCM) process of the company has been critically evaluated in the paper. In addition, strategic planning for developing sustainable SCM process has been incorporated in the paper. Furthermore, risks related to the development of sustainable SCM process has been described in the paper. A financial planning for developing sustainable SCM in Unilever has been included in the paper.
Supply chain is the sequence of processes that is involved in the production and distribution of a products or services. It is a network between a firm and its suppliers for producing and distributing products. Supply chain comprises of every company that falls in contact with a specific product along with including firms that accumulate and transport component parts to the producer or manufacturer (Nidumolu,Prahalad and Rangaswami, 2009). In the current study, an overview of the overall supply-chain of Unilever would be provided. Based on the supply chain and operational processes of the company, two specific steps would be identified and developed for recommending more sustainable and future-thinking enhancement.
Overview of Unilever’s supply chain
Unilever is an international end-user goods firm.Its products include personal care products, cleaning agents, food and beverages. Eight disciplines that is; engineering, planning, manufacturing, logistics, procuring, customer service, quality and safety are leveraged by End-to-end supply chain of the firm. The company operates through 460 warehouses and 260 factories in 90 nations serving around 2 billion customers (Unilever, 2016b). However, it has been observed that recently,the company has been facing some sustainability issues with its supply chain. One issue is related with the speed of order fulfilment (Supplychainbrain, 2013). The customers have claimed that they have to wait for a long period of time to receive their ordered products. The reason for such an issue is due to problem in decline in the procurement process of resources and materials. This has created a delay in delivering the products to the customers. On the other hand, another issue found is related with the welfare of employees that are a part of supply chain of Unilever. A report by Oxfam showed that there is problem in wage levels, working hours, stability of employment and relations between labourers and management of Unilever(Morden, 2013).
Sustainability concept and its relationship with supply chain management
The concept of sustainability is designed around there elements, environmental, social and economic development. Embracing environmentally sustainable business practices provide a number of advantages (Reilly, 2009). It enables the firm to be more responsible towards its business and customers with whom they deal with. The organisations with proven records in local and global sustainability could make income through investments (due to good public reputation), employee productivity and better long-term public following (Bowers, 2010). Sustainability is not only restricted to environment but is well infused in employment, business practice and supply chain and other elements. In context to Unilever, the company also adopts the sustainability approach. The company not just includes environmental factors but also increases the experiences of workers and employees whoare involved in its supply chain. For being more sustainable corporate citizens, the company is aiming to drive recycling and efficiency and reduce carbon emissions from its manufacturing sites.