MTA 2019 - 0053

Tim Gibson, sales director (second right) of sponsor Hireco presents the trophy to Lorraine Byrne, HR manager (fourth right), Karen Slack, senior project manager (holding trophy) and the team at Whirlpool UK Appliances

Whirlpool is the UK’s only white goods manufacturer to manage its own in-house home delivery network – Hotpoint Home Solutions – and its bosses are determined to match or exceed the standards of any 3PL.

Last year’s winner of the Operational & Compliance Award and Technical Excellence Award, Whirlpool UK Appliances scooped the crown for the Business Excellence Award at the Motor Transport Awards 2019, and couldn’t be more thrilled.

As the UK’s only white goods manufacturer to manage its own in-house home delivery network, Whirlpool constantly benchmarks its in-house operation – known as Hotpoint Home Solutions – against 3PLs on price and service, ensuring that providing the consumer with a seamless end-to-end solution is at the heart of everything they do.

Karen Slack, currently senior project manager, supply chain, at Whirlpool UK, previously managed the network and remains close to the operational team in Peterborough, led by logistics director Dominic Vertuccio.

Slack has championed many projects in her role, and last year managed the process that allowed the company to move to seven-day deliveries to provide flexibility for Whirlpool’s customers, as well as extending the cut-off time for ordering a next-day delivery from noon to 6pm, and training drivers to install built-in appliances.

She says that HHS is run exactly like a 3PL and has to have a fully costed business plan for each project.

“We calculate everything, as we would if it were a standalone business. Whirlpool is a big organisation, but in the UK we are relatively small and super agile, because if we’ve got a problem or if we want to change something, then we’ve got IT, operations, commercial and finance all close by. We are ‘one Whirlpool’, with one aim to improve our consumer journey.


Around 880,000 appliances each year go through the HHS network of 12 satellite depots, which use 115 vehicles to deliver


“We always have the philosophy, ‘if this were our business, what would we do?’ I think that stands us in good stead, because we’re not spending a lot of time on things where actually we don’t really know what we’re going to get at the end. We do our research to understand what the return is going to be and understand consumer needs.”

That is why she was so pleased – and yet surprised – to win the award at the Grosvenor House in July.

“It’s for the whole business rather than just the logistics arm, which is what I loved the most,” says Slack. “For me, it’s one of the most important awards because it does encompass everything and you have to have all of it right to be successful – it demonstrates that all our hard work has paid off.

“I have to say, I convinced everyone on our table that we weren’t going to win and of all 1,400 people in the room, I was the one who was the most surprised, but delighted.”

Around 880,000 appliances each year go through the HHS network of 12 satellite depots, where 330 drivers and attendant staff use 115 vehicles to deliver to homes and small trade outlets. The order cut-off for next day delivery is now 6pm, seven days a week.

An in-house model is the best method for Whirlpool because the home delivery teams do much more than just deliver. As a minimum service every appliance is unpacked and packaging is taken away, but there are now a range of other options including removal of the old appliance and installation of the new one, which helps differentiate Whirlpool from its rivals.

“Some retailers charge for that service, but we don’t because it’s part of our DNA. It’s what we train drivers to do. We ask ‘did the driver offer to unpack?’ We do that because we want to live by our promise,” says Slack.

“As any business, we will benchmark our capability and make sure that we are a profit centre and not a fixed cost that’s a drain on the business. We see the benefit of the customer journey being easy and quick, because we’re not entrusting our brands to be delivered by another operator. We are the ones that are in the consumer’s house and this is what sets us apart.

Driver training

“We’ve really focused on the training that we give to our drivers and because we do it so well, consumers choose our brands again and again. We don’t just train the driver to deliver a parcel that is simply left in a safe place. We’re physically in the consumer’s home, and we want every single driver to delight our consumers. That part of the journey is very important to us and to our organisation.

“Back in 2014 we opened our purpose-built training academy. We were delighted that this new innovation was recognised by our peers, winning the MTA Training Award in 2015. We’re pleased that others have followed to improve standards within the industry,” she adds.

Whirlpool Image 2

Whirlpool handles its deliveries and servicing in-house. Consumers can buy Whirlpool UK’s brands – Indesit, Hotpoint, Whirlpool and KitchenAid – from high street retailers or order online from a variety of retail partners.

“They take the order from the consumer,” says Slack. “Then they pass the order to us and we do the rest; our retail partners trust us to do the delivery on their behalf.”

For the past three years, HHS has been conducting net promoter score (NPS) research into its home delivery service, and this now stands at +82, which is comparable with Apple’s rating.

“We’re very proud of our customer satisfaction rating, as we know we’re one of the highest,” says Slack. “It encompasses a customer’s order journey as well as the delivery.”

The research includes asking the customer what HHS could do better, and any comments, good or bad, are fed back to the relevant depot manager for them to discuss weekly with the delivery crews.

Maintaining the ability to cope with short-term spikes in volume means that up to 20% of shifts could be covered by agency staff and rented vehicles at peak periods. That in turn enables HHS to maximise the utilisation of the core fleet. “We need these wheels turning every day,” she says. “For us, it’s important that we’re using the vehicles. We utilise the equipment we’ve got every single day, which means we need fewer vehicles.”

Slack says the move to seven-day operations was partly to spread volumes over the week, but mainly to offer customers better flexibility.

HHS will deliver between 7am and 7pm every day and consumers are given a three-hour delivery slot at 8pm the day before delivery, which is narrowed down to a one-hour window on the morning of delivery.


A business with a heart

While it has a robust business plan, Whirlpool UK Appliances also has a strong charity and community programme.

Last year, the Hotpoint brand launched its ‘Fresh Thinking for Forgotten Food’ campaign to raise awareness of the problem of wasted food. With 7 million tonnes of food thrown away every year, the campaign included the launch of a pop-up café in London serving dishes inspired by consumers’ recipes using commonly wasted foods, with all proceeds being donated to FoodCycle, a charity using food waste to create community meals.