New Shop Direct warehouse to enable next-day delivery

Littlewoods owner Shop Direct has revealed its new 850,000-square-foot distribution and returns centre in the East Midlands will allow it to explore same-day delivery and increase its cut-off time for next-day delivery to midnight.

The British company first announced plans to open a new fulfilment centre in the East Midlands in May, saying that its three existing warehouses in Greater Manchester will close to enable the Leicestershire move.

In a statement published on Monday it announced that it now has signed a 21-year institutional lease agreement for the new fulfilment centre, which is expected to be fully operational by 2021. It will be located at the East Midlands Gateway development near Castle Donington, Leicestershire and will employ 500 permanent workers.

Shop Direct, which also owns, said the new location will put the business in closer proximity to its imports, carrier partners and customers, helping it save an estimated one million road miles per year. Additionally, the hub will be served by its own rail freight terminal, with close links to the M1 and East Midlands Airport.

The online retailer is also working with Knapp, a leading automation solutions provide, to implement a series of technologies at the new site, including automated item selection, advanced picking, a single and multi-order automatic packaging facility, and automated sortation capabilities. This will allow products to be processed from order placement to ‘ready for dispatch’ in just 30 minutes, said the company.

“This fulfilment centre represents a significant and exciting milestone for our business. It’s part of how we’ll continue to meet the ever-changing needs of our four million customers and position ourselves for ongoing, sustainable growth in the years ahead,” commented Phil Hackney, group operations director.

“The site’s central UK location and world-class infrastructure will bring us closer to our customers and the best in class automation technology will mean we can serve them more efficiently than ever before. It will give us new delivery options for the future, like same day, and has capacity for future expansion as our business continues to grow.”

Shop Direct expects the opening of the fulfilment centre, plus the automation technology, to contribute an estimated £25m in efficiency savings per year from 2021.

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