EBRD know-how boosts logistics for Morocco’s SITI

By Anna  Wilson

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With funding from the European Union, the EBRD helped Société Impériale des Thés et Infusions, a teabag producer in Morocco, to work with an international logistics expert and improve inventory and supply chain management .

Société Impériale des Thés et Infusions, also known as SITI, is a world leader in its very unique field of specialisation. SITI makes luxury muslin tea-bags, a product that for many people might be assumed to be something from the past, long replaced by industrial mass production of tea bags made of paper.

But when SITI was founded 30 years ago, building on the professional knowledge of its founder, Mustapha El Baroudi, from his previous work in packaging medicinal plants, the company, based in Marrakesh, tested out almost forgotten techniques to find a way to producing high quality, hand-stitched cotton tea bags. These preserve the taste of loose leaf tea well enough to please even the most discerning tea connoisseur.

Most of the company’s production is exported but the company needed effective logistics and robust supply chain management to back up their global ambitions.

The EBRD connected SITI with a logistics expert from Romania, Stefan Cucu, who has more than 20 years of experience working in logistics for giants like Danone, Intersnack and British American Tobacco. In a project funded by the European Union, over the course of 18 months the adviser helped the company strengthen their logistics function, raising inventory accuracy from 77% to 93%.

The adviser reviewed the organisational and procedural aspects of the company’s logistics and helped SITI’s management to introduce new procedures to improve logistics performance, like regular inventory counting, ABC categories and rules for stock segregation.

He also supported the introduction of logistics as a core organisational function and the recruitment of a Logistics Supervisor and the reorganisation of the logistics team, and assisted with the implementation of a Warehouse Management System.

"SITI is one of the most client-oriented companies I have worked with in my life,” said Mr Cucu. “They are really an innovation-driven environment, and they were deeply interested in what they could learn through the project. This offers incredible competitive advantages for their partners."

During the project, eight business tools were successfully introduced to the company, some of which will be taken on as good practices / lessons learned for other companies. The company also invested €2 million in a brand new logistics centre, equipped with a modern racking system and handling equipment.

SITI steadily improved their new logistics and production-related indicators, reducing demurrage costs (the costs of having goods on a ship in port) to zero, improving forecasting accuracy and raising production efficiency.

Now in a stronger position to continue to grow, SITI has seen exports increase by 27% and taken on over 100 new employees.

“This collaboration with EBRD was very valuable for our company,” explained Mohamed El Baroudi, SITI’s General Manager. “This experience helped our company make a great leap forward in reorganizing its processes in a more effective way. The new skills and know-how acquired by our team are a lasting asset for our company and we hope that new collaboration opportunities will rise in the near future.”

The EBRD has been helping small and medium-sized businesses in Morocco access external advice since 2012, helping more than 100 enterprises to date, with funding from the European Union, the SEMED Multi-Donor Account* and the SEMED cooperation funds account.

* SEMED MDA donors are: Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taipei China, United Kingdom.

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