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Supply chain digitization

Navigating the supply chain: In conversation with the CSCO at Inspire Brands

Explore the world of supply chain management in the food services industry with Chris Held, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Inspire Brands.

by Sanjana Balaraman | November 24, 2023 | 4 mins read
Navigating the supply chain: In conversation with the CSCO at Inspire Brands

Explore the world of supply chain management in the food services industry with Chris Held, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Inspire Brands.

Last month, our CEO, Nitin Jayakrishnan, had the opportunity to catch up with Chris Held, Chief Supply Chain Officer of Inspire Brands, on his professional journey and how he optimizes supply chain efficiency, manages diverse brands, and leverages digital technology to predict consumer trends. The highlights from our conversation are captured below.  

Getting to know Chris 

Nitin: Tell us about yourself, Chris. What is your role at Inspire Brands? 

Chris: I am the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Inspire Brands. My primary responsibility is to oversee the supply chain operations for all the brands under Inspire Brands, which include Dunkin', Jimmy John's, Sonic, Arby's, and more. I work closely with the different teams to optimize supply chain efficiency, manage inventory, and ensure timely delivery of products. 

Nitin: You have a diverse background, including experience in chemical engineering, teaching, and consulting. How did you end up in supply chain? 

Chris: My journey to supply chain was driven by my passion for problem-solving and making an impact. I started as a chemical engineer and worked in various industries, including consulting and academia. However, I was always drawn to solving complex problems and finding innovative solutions. Supply chain, with its focus on managing uncertainty and optimizing operations, offered the perfect platform for me to apply my skills and expertise. 

Driving improved customer experience through supply chain excellence 

Nitin: Inspire Brands is known for its portfolio of well-known restaurants. How do you manage the shared service model of supply chain while catering to the unique needs of different brands? 

Chris: The shared service model in supply chain at Inspire Brands allows us to leverage economies of scale and drive synergies across the different brands. However, it is important to balance this with the unique needs of each brand. We achieve this by employing the first principles in supply chain management, focusing on demand uncertainty and variability. We aim to predict consumer trends before they become mainstream and customize supply chain solutions accordingly. 

Nitin: How does digital technology play a role in managing supply chain operations for multiple brands? 

Chris: Digital technology plays a crucial role in managing supply chain operations efficiently. It enhances data collection, analysis, and forecasting, allowing us to make informed decisions and predict consumer demand accurately. As we consolidate loyalty programs and collect more data, we can leverage artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to improve demand planning and optimize our supply chain strategy. 

Nitin: The restaurant industry is facing challenges in labor availability and fluctuations. How do you address this issue in your supply chain operations? 

Chris: The availability of labor, especially in the restaurant industry, is a broader challenge that we, as a society, need to address. While Inspire Brands doesn't have direct control over labor availability, we strive to optimize operational efficiency and augment workforce productivity where possible. We explore innovative solutions, such as AI and automation, to assist employees in their roles and enhance their effectiveness. 

 

A snapshot into the future of supply chain in the restaurant industry 

Nitin: As the Chief Supply Chain Officer, what is your vision for the future of supply chain in the restaurant industry? 

Chris: While I can't speak for Inspire Brands specifically, my personal vision for the future of supply chain in the restaurant industry revolves around predicting consumer preferences before they even realize them. It's about understanding their needs, anticipating trends, and delivering innovative products and experiences. By leveraging data, AI, and deep consumer insights, we can reshape the supply chain to be more proactive and responsive.