Gartner Announces Rankings of Its 2012 Supply Chain Top 25

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- Apple Maintains the Top Position for Fifth Year in a Row
- Winners Announced at Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, 21-23 May, at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, Palm Desert, California

Gartner, Inc. has released the findings from its eighth annual Supply Chain Top 25. The goal of the Supply Chain Top 25 research initiative is to raise awareness of the supply chain discipline and how it impacts the business.

Analysts announced the findings from this year's research at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2012 (, which is being held here at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa through 23 May.

"Last year, we noted that companies were starting to invest in resources and assets again, reflecting a newly recovering economy," said Debra Hofman, managing vice president at Gartner. "This year, that trend continues even more strongly, with many companies investing for growth. The global economic recovery has been uneven and halting in some cases, but, on balance, the result has been expansionary for companies' bottom lines and outlooks."

Average annual revenue growth of the companies in the study increased 29 per cent over the previous year. The average return on assets (ROA) and net profits improved by more than 50 per cent in 2010, and then stabilised this year, signalling profitable growth.

The supply chain top five included three mainstays - Apple, Dell and P&G - and two that are newer to the ranking, but have been rising steadily - Amazon and McDonald's.

Maintaining its record in the No. 1 slot was Apple (see Table 1 in the attached pdf-file below), delivering total solutions to its customers through tightly integrated design of hardware components, firmware, a proprietary operating system and an ecosystem of applications that run on top of that platform. Stellar financials, which further improved this year, supported by the highest voting scores point to its combination of operational and innovation excellence, a zealous focus on starting with the consumer experience and working back through the design of its supply network, and mastery in orchestrating its end-to-end value network.

Gartner analysts said Amazon is a great example of an "orchestrator" that goes beyond simply borrowing and adapting others' best practices and consistently defies conventional wisdom. McDonald's moved up five spots to No. 3 this year on strong financials and peer opinion votes. The ubiquitous restaurant chain has managed the balance between new product growth, and the resulting complexity in supply chain planning and execution.

Gartner analysts said there were three notable trends across supply chain leaders that included a continued focus on supply chain resiliency, simplification and "multilocal" operations.

Resiliency: Many of this year's Supply Chain Top 25 companies were impacted by natural disasters, such as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and the massive flooding in Thailand. "Leading companies such as Intel, P&G and Unilever improved multitier supply chain visibility and advanced network management capabilities to be agile in the face of disruptions," Ms Hofman said. "Overall, leaders have remained focused throughout the past year on building resiliency into their global supply chains, and we see it continuing to be a highly valued supply chain characteristic."

Simplification: Many companies said they have exhausted easily gained efficiencies within their existing supply networks and product portfolios. Further improvement will require structural changes to streamline the flow of supply, and eliminate less profitable product and portfolio complexity. "Supply chain leaders are adopting complexity optimisation strategies to eliminate infrequently used product features, service offerings, suppliers and distribution network capacity that does not add sufficient value to customers," said Stan Aronow, research director at Gartner.

"Multilocal" Operations: Manufacturers and retailers have long sought ways to balance the trade-off in their supply network designs between global economies of scale and the demand for local responsiveness. Leading companies are reassessing their sourcing and manufacturing networks, and rebalancing their supply network strategies in favour of multilocal design, supply and support. More specifically, they are shifting from a centralised model, where these functions support global markets, to a regionalised approach, where capabilities are placed locally, but architected globally.

More detailed analysis is available in the report "The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2012." A complimentary copy of the report is available at This site includes various reports related to the Supply Chain Top 25, as well as the overall supply chain industry.

About the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25

The Supply Chain Top 25 rankings comprise two main components: financial and opinion. Public financial data gives a view into how companies have performed in the past, while the opinion component provides an eye to future potential and reflects future expected leadership, a crucial characteristic. These two components are combined into a total composite score.

Gartner analysts derive a master list of companies from the Fortune Global 500 and the Forbes Global 2000, with a revenue cut-off of $10 billion. Gartner then pares the combined list down to the manufacturing, retail and distribution sectors, thus eliminating certain industries, such as financial services and insurance.

About Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference

Analysts are discussing the future direction of the supply chain industry at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2012. The US event is taking place now through 23 May at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert. For more information about the conference, please visit

The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2012 will also be held 23-24 July at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. For additional information about this conference, please visit

The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2012 will also be held 17-18 September at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London. For additional information about this conference, please visit

Additional information from the events will be shared on Twitter at and using #Gartnerscc.


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