There are defining moments in any relationship and sometimes throwing everything at a problem to achieve those moments, pays long term dividends and builds truly customer-centric, lasting relationships.
From the nascent beginnings of conversations in 2015 between Asahi and Toll to outline the strategic intent and position Toll as a differentiator, to two years on, and the results speak for themselves, with the two businesses operating as one to achieve strong growth and competitive outcomes.
Asahi Group Holdings is a leading brewery and soft drinks company headquartered in Japan with global operations. In 2009, Asahi acquired Schweppes Australia and later added several more companies through acquisitions in Australia and New Zealand, then integrated to become Asahi Beverages.
Previously Asahi Beverages worked with multiple supply chain service providers. The company decided to move to a strategic partnership model and invest in their supply chain in order to realise their growth outcomes and service their customers’ needs.
It was clear from the beginning that Asahi Beverages’ and Toll’s values were very much aligned - a focus on safety, customers, continuous improvement and operational excellence - and strengthened by an existing partnership between Japan Post and Asahi Group Holdings in Japan.
The relationship began to prosper in 2015 in Queensland, Australia, when Toll commenced route and bulk distribution. This early win was the catalyst to a broader conversation that centred on working collectively and reviewing other areas of the business that could benefit from support, namely domestic bulk and route distribution in New South Wales and South Australia and warehouse solutions in Queensland.
Asahi Beverages challenged Toll to meet its dynamic operational requirements and to respond rapidly to changing consumer requirements. At one time this saw Toll rapidly opening up large scale warehousing operations to manage unexpected peak demand.
Toll’s ability to react nimbly and proactively to Asahi Beverages’ requirements built a strong level of trust between the companies culminating in the embedding of Marcus Carmont, our Strategic Business Partner, into the Asahi Beverages’ business, cementing the relationship further.
“At Toll our partnership with Asahi Beverages meant we were challenging our intent to move quickly and position ourselves as a partner rather than a stakeholder. Previously we would have specified lead times and it would have taken months to implement infrastructure,” Marcus said.
“Our ability to be agile and move nimbly in times of need has been the single biggest factor in the success of this relationship.”
Marcus provides a single point of contact for Asahi Beverages, enabling a one on one customer and service provider relationship, with the power of an organisation behind him that can deliver service capability, cost efficiencies and security of supply.
“There has been a lot of trust built up over a long period of time across the entire Toll team,” Marcus says. “I am truly embedded in their business; I walk into the Asahi Beverages office as an Asahi Beverages person. We are a strategic extension of their business and this is reflected in the way we talk about issues and develop joint solutions.”
The partnership has now moved into providing integrated domestic warehousing and transport solutions across the Australian Eastern Seaboard, while supporting the continually shifting requirements across Global Forwarding and Australian Domestic Linehaul, which drive real service and cost outcomes to Asahi Beverages.
2015 marked an auspicious start of a journey for both organisations, beginning as a route and bulk distribution contract and growing to dedicated warehousing and transport contracts across Australia, by working in the spirit of a true strategic partnership.
Since the original breakthrough contract, business has grown tenfold and with operations growing from a single distribution centre to seven dedicated sites strategically located across Australia, in addition to transport operations across the country.
From the initial executive teams’ conversations through to the powerhouse the partnership represents today, the support of Japan Post has been a critical part of the story.
“Asahi Beverages Australia chose Toll for its quality of proposal, cost competitiveness and strong service teams,” says Atsushi Katsuki, former Group Chief Executive Officer of Asahi Holdings (Australia).