The 25 companies with the best supply chain and logistics practices

07 June 2018 5 min. read

New analysis has shown which international companies make use of the best supply chain and logistics practice. The list of 25 organisations is a diverse assortment of firms from the fashion, technology, fast moving consumer goods, food and drinks and cosmetic industries, among others, with UK/Netherlands multinational Unilever leading the way.

Each year, research and advisory company Gartner releases a Supply Chain Top 25 list, which identifies industry “best practices” and top performers. Simply put, a supply chain is a system of organisations, people, activities, information, and resources which are involved in moving a product or service from suppliers to the customer.

In line with most other industries, the sector is in the grip of a sustained period of change, as supply chain experts wrestle with the concept of digital transformation in order to both streamline and secure their operational processes. This adds an increased pertinence to the list companies and best practices released by Gartner, as the consultancy’s ranking can help industry members to locate who to look to, in order to learn how to successfully realign their business in the digital age.

“The ranking consists of an impressive group of leaders with valuable lessons to share, including three recent entrants from the life sciences, retail and consumer products sectors,” said Stan Aronow, Research Vice President at Gartner.

The 25 companies with the best supply chain and logistics practices

Alongside a general supply chain score from analysts at Gartner, the 25-strong list was determined according to return on assets (ROA), an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets, as well as a three-year weighted revenue growth figure. The process saw British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company Unilever take top spot. The organisation, which recently announced plans to unify its headquarters in the Netherlands ahead of Brexit, sees a diverse range of products including food and beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products through from production to consumption across Europe and the world.

This represents a third triumph in a row for Unilever, which has scored the top spot in 2016 and 2017 previously. This year it is followed by Spanish clothing company Inditex, US technology conglomerate Cisco, global consumer goods group Colgate-Palmolive and US technology organisation Intel. Global sports titan Nike, foods groups Nestle and PepsiCo, fashion retailer H&M and coffee chain Starbucks completed the top ten.

Following in 11th spot is 3M, formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, an American multinational conglomerate, and European multinational energy management firm Schneider Electric. In 13th, scoring the highest 3-year revenue growth average of any firm on the list at 38%, is newcomer Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company headquartered in Bagsværd, Denmark, followed by global computer manufacturer HP, and international cosmetics brand L’Oréal.

British multinational alcoholic beverages company Diageo ranks 16th, with the London headquartered firm joined in the top 20 by Seoul headquartered electronics giant Samsung, American medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company Johnson & Johnson, German chemical company BASF, and multinational retail corporation Walmart.

Sustained leadership

The final five members of Gartner’s list featured two new faces. While American multinational personal care corporation Kimberly Clarke and food and drinks behemoth Coca Cola were both returners, Home Depot made the list having been absent for the past three years, posting the second highest 3-year revenue growth of 19%. Home Depot is followed by first-timer Adidas, which recorded the highest 3-year ROA of any firm, at 14%. Rounding off the top 25 is automotive manufacturing giant BMW, the world’s third most valuable automotive brand.

While the list seems to have left a number of key names absent, it should be noticed that Gartner also holds a separate “Masters” category to prevent certain brands monopolising top spots, and preventing a diversity of tactics being commended by the supply chain and logistics ranking. This year, long-time supply chain leader and last year's runner-up McDonald’s joined Apple, P&G and Amazon in qualifying for the “Masters” category, first introduced in 2015 to recognise sustained leadership in the industry over the last 10 years.

According to Stan Aronow, "The key to McDonald's success is skillful orchestration across a network of strategic suppliers, service providers and thousands of companies and franchise-owned stores worldwide. The company is also experimenting with digital supply chain capabilities like augmented reality to manage storerooms, so staff can spend more time with the customer."