ICE first presented to MITIE (Retail) Ltd in November 2009 and over the next year became our sole supplier of cleaning machinery. They brought to the table an enthusiastic approach which was innovative, flexible and accommodating in those times of need. This was a supplier partnership and it was both encouraging and rewarding for both parties. Two specific mobilisations come to mind which I believe gives a good indication of ICE as a company, one which was the largest ever single machinery order placed by MITIE for the Co-operative Group stores and one is this case study for Tesco Stores in September 2010.
MITIE was awarded significant growth in the Tesco store cleaning Tender in July 2010. Up to this point we were using ICE to supply machinery into the existing smaller convenience Express stores. We had chosen the RA431 compact scrubbing machine for these stores, following their presentation. This proved to be a low maintenance, cost effective machine that the operators liked because of the simplicity. ICE had supplied with the machine both pad drives and brushes so we could utilise the machinery in almost every area of the store, achieving that machinery driven approach we were aiming for. This machine later became our utility machine of choice in the large format stores for use throughout the trading day on the shop floor.
Tesco has an agreement term within its Tenders that on site machinery will transfer between suppliers providing they can reach agreement on the net book values etc. Although this seems a fair approach it does have its complications and, in this case, negotiations had not been going well with the incumbent contractor. We were now entering minus four weeks to start date and we were starting to get concerned. I arranged a meeting with ICE and fully explained the situation. Without any firm commitments from MITIE, ICE immediately `got on board` with a contingency plan on our behalf. This involved considerable expense to ICE, surveying the stores, speaking to Switzerland on delivery timescales and eventually taking the ultimate risk in placing an order with Cleanfix without a guaranteed order from MITIE. This showed a huge amount of commitment from ICE and enabled MITIE to have a contingency plan for Tesco who were aware of the situation.
With two weeks to go to start date MITIE decided to end negotiations with the incumbent and officially place the order with ICE to supply a £1.5 million order for floor cleaning machines into all Express stores across our regions and all large store format stores in the South East and South West Regions of England. This amounted to approximately 230 sites.
The machinery roll-out started 2 weeks prior to start date. Fortunately, following the commitment ICE had made by arranging for machinery to be delivered into the UK, this was possible. If ICE had not taken this approach then we would have needed to either go back to the negotiating table with the incumbent contractor and pay well over the net book values for the machinery or request that the customer postpone the start date. Both scenarios would have been unacceptable to MITIE as options.
The machinery for each store had been specified on the surveys initially carried out and, upon delivery, training took place with not only the machine operator but all staff on the shift. This gave us the multi skilling of operatives we were looking for. Every member of staff received a training certificate prior to contract start date.
ICE had taken a simplicity approach and banded the stores into machine bundles so we were aware that a specific store would receive certain machinery. This gave us a very easy communication line with our field teams as we issued them all a matrix which they could refer to if questioned. As with every multi-site contract, however, there will be unique stores that the bundle matrix does not fit. These idiosyncrasies, which were unknown to ICE, on survey lead to the need to change some machinery for larger or smaller models and this was done without any objection and at a further cost to ICE which was never passed onto MITIE. All unique changes were carried out prior to the contract start date.
The machinery we procured was the RA431 compact scrubbing machine for the Express stores. The RA561 tough and powerful machine for hard and soft floors and the RA 900 Sauber ride on scrubber drier were chosen for the larger stores. We also purchased additional machinery including vacs, single rotary machines and car park sweepers from ICE.
Whenever I am asked to provide a reference for a supplier, the first question I ask is firstly `Did they go the extra mile for MITIE?` and pull out all the stops as a supplier to `Make it happen`. We need our supply chain to, at times, gamble to aid the cause. The world of contract cleaning can throw all types of issues at you and you need to have a supplier who is in there with you when the going gets tough. I found ICE ready and up for the challenge and when we asked them to `step up to the mount` they certainly did so. The commitment they made considering the MITIE policy for purchase ordering went well over and above what was expected and probably saved what could have been a mobilisation disaster. I have no hesitation in recommending ICE as a supplier because there will be some tough times ahead for all of us and we all need suppliers like ICE to support us through difficult times.