Business Challenge

To ensure just-in-time fresh-bread deliveries to UK supermarkets, Allied Bakeries depends on instant access to EDI messages from retailers to manage tight-turnaround orders 24/7.


Allied Bakeries migrated EDI management from a lean in-house team to IBM® Supply Chain Business Network, ensuring expert monitoring 24/7 and shrinking the risk of unplanned downtime.



on-time message delivery for mission-critical product orders


just-in-time deliveries for thousands of supermarket customers


trading partner onboarding to open new revenue streams faster

Business Challenge Story

On-time deliveries drive profitability

To serve thousands of supermarket retail customers across the UK, Allied Bakeries’ manufacturing processes run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With tight margins, short shelf lives and fixed delivery deadlines, the company relies on a finely tuned business process to maximise its profitability.

Michael Burns, IT Director, Associated British Foods Grocery Division, says: “In our industry, one of the biggest challenges is meeting just-in-time delivery deadlines. For example, we sometimes receive our last orders at nine o’clock at night, but they still need to go out at four o’clock in the next morning.

Allied Bakeries uses EDI messages to accept daily orders and return advance shipping notices to thousands of supermarket retailers across the country, which enables the company to confirm the delivery time that each customer should prepare for.

“Our EDI messaging service enables us to process orders quickly and effectively,” says Burns. “If the EDI software were to go offline even for a few hours, it would seriously impact our ability to deliver products on time.”

“Bread is a visit driver for supermarkets, which means fresh produce needs to be on the shelves before they open. If we cannot meet our customers’ tight delivery deadlines, then we risk missing out on sales opportunities—a threat to our overall profitability.”

In the past, Allied Bakeries tasked a lean, in-house team to manage and maintain its mission-critical EDI service. With transaction volumes approaching 60,000 messages daily, the company needed to upgrade and future-proof its approach.

“EDI is essential to the smooth running of our business,” says Burns. “We wanted peace of mind that our EDI service would always be available. To achieve that goal, we decided to outsource our EDI service to an expert vendor.”

EDI is as essential as the electricity that drives our manufacturing plants: thanks to IBM, it’s always available.

Michael Burns, IT Director, Associated British Foods Grocery Division

Transformation Story

Selecting the right partner

After reviewing proposals from a number of different solution vendors, Allied Bakeries selected IBM Supply Chain Business Network.

“We selected IBM because we were confident in their team’s ability to manage the complexity of our EDI requirements,” says Burns. “Working with IBM, we remapped the existing customer integrations, identified improvements to the business logic and made changes to optimise the performance, reliability and availability of our B2B connections.”

After working with IBM Supply Chain Business Network for a number of years, Allied Bakeries has chosen to renew its commitment to the solution.

“Throughout the EDI migration process and beyond, the IBM team has been an invaluable asset,” says Burns. “If there were bumps in the road, our service manager was always available to ensure that issues were routed to the appropriate department—even to the highest levels of the organisation when necessary.

“Because of the responsive, flexible support we receive, we always feel that our voice is heard, both locally and globally within IBM.”

Results Story

Delivering on time, cutting risk

Today, Allied Bakeries has achieved its objective of ensuring all-important EDI messages are always available to the business—helping it to meet just-in-time delivery deadlines to thousands of supermarket retailers every day.

“EDI is as essential a commodity to us as the electricity that drives our manufacturing plants—and thanks to IBM, it’s always available,” says Burns. “By moving the process from our in-house team to the IBM managed-services solution in the cloud, we benefit from IBM’s mountains of experience, expertise and investment in B2B customer integration.

“Over 12 months, we’ve delivered 100 percent of our messages on time, which is vital to meet delivery deadlines and drive profitability. What’s more, IBM carries out all routine maintenance tasks with practically no disruption to production services; it just works.”

In addition to enabling the targeted availability for EDI, the IBM solution helps Allied Bakeries to integrate new customers faster than before.

“Adding new supermarket retail customers is not a process that happens very often, but in the past it took us considerable time and effort to achieve in-house,” says Burns. “Because IBM has well-established relationships with our trading partners, bringing new customers on board is faster than ever—helping us to maximise new sales opportunities.”

Burns concludes: “The IBM solution has reduced our business risk. By continuing to work-side-by-side with the IBM team, we can continue to ensure that orders from our EDI system are always available to the business: enabling us to keep delivering on time, every time.”

Allied Milling & Baking logo

Allied Bakeries

Founded in 1935 and headquartered in Maidenhead, England, Allied Bakeries is a leading manufacturer of bakery products. The company manages some of the best-selling brands in the UK, including Kingsmill, Sunblest, Burgin and Allinson. Allied Bakeries sits within the Grocery Division of Associated British Foods and is part of a diversified international food, ingredients and retail group with sales of GBP13.4 billion, 130,000 employees and operations in 50 countries across Europe, southern Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia.

Solution Components

  • Consumer Products: Digital Operations
  • Consumer Products: Supply Chain
  • IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network

Take the Next Step

To learn more about IBM B2B integration solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: