Apple's supply chain continues to outshine the rest, according to the research firm Gartner Inc.
The consumer electronics company best known for its iPhones, iPads, and iPods ranked number one on Gartner Research's 2013 list of the top 25 supply chains. That's Apple's sixth consecutive year at the top of the supply chain heap.
Gartner's annual report on supply chain leaders, now in its ninth year, ranks companies for supply chain excellence based on execution metrics—including return on assets, revenue growth, and inventory turns—as well as on analyst and peer opinions.
This year's list saw a lot of movement: The restaurant chain McDonald's overtook Web merchant Amazon to claim the number two position. The consumer goods giant Unilever shot up to the number four spot from 10th place last year, while Intel climbed two notches to fifth place from seventh last year. Three new companies—Ford, Lenovo, and Qualcomm—joined the top 25 this year.
In its report, Gartner identified several major trends among the top 25 companies. Analysts found more movement toward "demand-driven" supply chains that integrate demand, supply, and product to respond to ever-changing demand, said Debra Hofman, Gartner's vice president, supply chain research, in announcing the results. The research firm also noted that more advanced companies are involved in a wide range of supply chain initiatives that include supply chain segmentation, cost-to-serve analytics, multitier visibility, and supply network optimization.
With respect to their supply chains, leading companies are also moving their focus away from efficiency and cost cutting and more toward enabling growth. At the same time, analysts said, top companies are making acquiring, developing, and retaining supply chain talent a major focus area.
Here are the research firm's picks for the top 10.
The entire list and the accompanying report are available here.