For the third consecutive year, Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer products titan, captured the top spot in the annual "Supply Chain Top 25" rankings compiled by consultancy Gartner Inc.
It was followed by Inditex S.A., the Spanish fashion retailer, which moved up from third in last year's rankings. Last year's runner-up, quick-service restaurant giant McDonalds Corp., qualified this year for the supply chain "Masters" category, a separate grouping reserved for companies that have shown sustained supply chain leadership for the past 10 years. The others in the category are Apple Inc.; Procter & Gamble Co.; and Amazon.com Inc.
IT networking giant Cisco Systems Inc., consumer goods firm The Colgate-Palmolive Co., and chipmaker Intel Corp. rounded out this year's top five, Gartner said. Home improvement retailer The Home Depot Inc. rejoined the list after a 3-year hiatus, while German apparel maker Adidas and Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk A/S joined for the first time, Gartner said. The consultancy unveiled the list at its Supply Chain executive conference in Phoenix.
"Unilever has a strong supply chain brand, which is reflected by its top-tier opinion poll score. It also received a perfect 10 for corporate social responsibility," said Stan Aronow, research vice president at Gartner. The company is "making big bets in the digitization of its supply chain," Aronow said. "A key initiative is robotic process automation supporting the order-to-cash process, run from its regional service control towers. Its more than 20 'bots' have already automated hundreds of processes, with a roadmap for hundreds more."
Companies making the top 25 list are successfully navigating a challenging global environment punctuated by the spread of protectionism and stronger global demand that is outstripping supply, leading to higher costs for logistics and labor, Aronow said.
The rankings are based on two main components: business performance and opinion. Publicly available financial and corporate social responsibility data are used to calculate the business performance score. This data provides a view into how companies have performed in the past. The opinion component is based on feedback from both Gartner analysts and a panel of peers. It is meant to assess future potential and reflect the company's leadership role in the overall supply chain community. These two components are combined into a total composite score.
This marks the 14th consecutive year that Gartner has published a Top 25 ranking.