Product Management

Product management, quality and selection

What you need, when you need it

We’re committed to ensuring you get what you need, when you need it. This is why we keep more than 20,000 products in stock and continue to develop our stock management processes and systems to actively manage our stock levels.

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How we guarantee choice,
availability and quality

Tender process

CIPS-qualified (The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) category teams appoint suppliers via a tender process evaluating product quality, CSR, continuity, price and policies.


Multiple suppliers for the same product with preferred primary and secondary suppliers provide contingency planning to ensure that products are always available when required.


When establishing new relationships with our suppliers, we create contingency plans to reduce risks and minimise supply chain interruptions.

Stock levels

Stock holding levels are established to suit regular and erratic ordering patterns. We hold two weeks stock totalling £20m and £7m of customer-specific stock (20 days for catalogue, 40 days for specifics).


The implementation team analyse customers’ usage data, identifying seasonal trends and peaks. Forecasted usage is loaded into the product management software and shared with our supply chain.


Our product management software controls, manages and maintains stock levels by procuring the required quantities of stock on time for replenishment and sale. Our Material Resource Program (MRP) uses daily order data with stock levels picking, and packing data to know exact stock levels of products at any time.


If unusual activity is identified, the Material Resource Managers intervene and submit interim manual orders with primary and secondary suppliers.


Stock control levels are monitored with a minimum availability of 99%.

Supplier monitoring

Category teams manage relationships with suppliers monitoring supplier service levels.

Stock control and IT

Our stock control methods and IT systems include the following:

Levels and KPIs

Stock control service levels and KPIs: minimum stock availability of 99%. ‘A’ line stock products (highest demand stocked items) must maintain 99.5% availability.

Procurement triggering

Procurement is triggered when the sum of stock and confirmed receipts fall below the reorder point.

Covering product requirements

When we order products to replenish stock (reorder point), we will address a number of factors including the demand for the product, lead times for delivery and stock amount. This last factor is a safety measure to ensure we have a buffer of stock to ensure we can still deliver and avoid delays.


If unusual activity is identified against forecasted consumption, then the Material Resource Managers manually intervene and submit interim manual orders with the primary supplier. If this supplier does not have sufficient stock, we will approach the secondary supplier to fulfil requirements.

Usage analysis

From the start, the implementation team will analyse usage for the previous 12 months usage and identify any seasonal trends and/or peak periods.


Once confirmed, the team enters forecasted usage into product management software which will submit orders to our supply chain sources automatically and maintain stock levels – adjusting to consider the surge usage. This allows us to effectively manage our supply chain and ensure stock levels are maintained and replenished in line with forecasted demand and peak demand events.

Managing risk

We have implemented various processes to identify and manage supply chain risk to ensure business as usual.


Business continuity management

ISO 22301 business continuity management system identifying risks, preventative actions, contingency measures and crisis management requirements to maintain business as usual.

Incident response

Incident response team responsible for mitigating/rectifying supply chain risks including lorry driver shortages, rising freight costs, trade deals etc.

Contingency planning

Identified database of events that can affect national/worldwide supply chains ensuring inbuilt contingencies to maintain supply.


We do everything we can to ensure that stock is available to our customers, no matter what.  

For Brexit we:

  • Secured additional storage facilities
  • Over-stocked our fastest moving catalogue and customers’ business-critical products
  • Worked with our supply chain to mitigate pricing and supply chain risks
  • Obtained an EORI number from HMRC ensuring a smoother importation process for EU products.
  • Updated EU supplier lead times in product management software to increase stockholding to allow for longer lead times.

Driver shortage

To mitigate the impact of the ongoing lorry driver shortages and rising cost of freight we: 

  • Implemented of a new process to allow mass forecast changes to combat consumption fluctuations due to driver shortages (including those caused by COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions)
  • Conducted weekly meetings with Planning and the Product & Services team to review supplier service levels and costs
  • Used our own fleet of vans to back-haul products from suppliers
  • Built internal business insight tools with Mintec to analyse 14,000 raw material commodities, shipping costs and exchange rate movements daily, ensuring that if a product moves in the market, we challenge our supply chain using factual raw material data.

COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns

During the COVID-19 outbreak, subsequent lockdowns and continued disruption, we:

  • Quickly reacted to the surge in demand and the risk of rogue products flooding the marketplace by adding two Procurement heads to the already established PPE team. Their job was to focus on sourcing Disposable Covid-19 related products. 
  • Widened our supply chains while ensuring strong due diligence to verify that all certifications and products were from a sustainable and legitimate supply chain (in line with our BSIF membership).


We have a number of mitigating actions in place.

France hub

In the case of a supply chain failure or increased demand, our France hub holds all catalogue products. We have the capacity to call on this stock and reach our NDC within 48 hours.

Secondary suppliers

Automatically switch to secondary suppliers to avoid disruption.

Strong relationships

Leverage strong trading relationships with product suppliers to upscale call off.

Increased stock

Increase stock holding in multiple locations including our two National Distribution Centres in Telford and Dublin, with over 54,000m2 combined, and 28 regional distribution centres.


Utilise the NDC’s 20% available storage capacity (equivalent to 32,000 Euro pallets) vertical storage systems and bulk storage options with local companies to extend stock holding capacity.

Test and update

Regularly test and update supply chain business continuity and disaster recovery plans.