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Counting on the experts


For most companies it is an annoying but compulsory task – according to German law at the end of the fiscal year, the entire inventory of a company must be counted. For RGIS this is a challenging and exciting task – a task that demands experience, know-how, accuracy and innovative technology. RGIS combines all those characteristics.

The internationally operating company is one of the most traditional and innovative stock taking and inventory specialists and performs more than 1,400 stock takes per day for companies of all different types and sizes. RGIS traces its roots back to 1958. That year, RGIS was founded to offer grocery stores a precise alternative to in-house inventory.

”The food industry has long been RGIS’s main focus,” explains Managing Director Frank Tillmann. “The company’s name is an acronym for Retail Grocery Inventory Specialist. Still today, it is of great importance, but over time, we broadened our horizons.”

As RGIS’s concept was very well received, in the 1960s, more and more offices were established; first in the United States, later in Canada, Brazil, New Mexico, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Israel. In 2006, family-owned RGIS was acquired by the private equity firm Blackstone. Blackstone continued to bring forward RGIS’ global development.

For language reasons, the first European subsidiary was opened in the United Kingdom; Germany followed soon. “Blackstone focused on a clear expansion strategy and successively acquired leading competitors,” says Mr. Tillmann. “This way, RGIS could automatically bank on a solid customer portfolio as well as focusing on acquiring new customers. This strategy allowed us to concentrate on new technologies such as wireless technology and software that made real-time reporting possible, cloud based inventory management, finger scanners and electronic self-labelling.”

RGIS’s German headquarters is based in Essen; 550 employees in five regional offices and twelve satellite branches support customers to efficiently manage their inventory issues. “We focus on stocktaking and inventory management solutions for food retailers, DIY stores, hardware stores and textile companies,” sums up Mr. Tillmann. “Our approach is very individual. There is always a first meeting where we check IT infrastructures; basically, it all starts with us listening to the customer. This is essential to develop customized software solutions for this specific customer. After conducting trials we start with the inventory. We are very technology-driven and try to avoid paperwork if possible. However, every customer has individual requirements, specifications and expectations and for this reason it is not possible to work with standard software solutions which would make our job a lot easier. Developing this software may take up to three weeks depending on how complex the subject and the company are.”

RGIS’s peak season generally starts in June and lasts until the start of March. Some customers aim to conduct inventories three or four times a year. RGIS is the biggest provider of inventory services worldwide and benefits from its excellent reputation – for this reason the company does not invest heavily in marketing but visits fairs such as the EuroCIS in Düsseldorf.

“Basically we have two competitors,” states Mr. Tillmann. “Besides other providers like ourselves, our main competitor is the customer who deals with inventory himself. It is an annoying and time-consuming process for those who are not as experienced as we are. We, on the other hand, know exactly what we are doing as we do nothing else. Plus, we have proven technology ensuring efficiency and accuracy. These are the benefits of working with RGIS.”

For historical reasons, almost all important food retailers are among RGIS’s customers. But also big DIY chains greatly appreciate being able to focus on core competences when working with RGIS. “Every single day, we are working with different customers,” points out Mr. Tillmann. “This makes our job so exciting. The German market still has great potential to grow further. Thanks to our commitment and strong innovative drive we will grow with the market.”

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