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M&S boosts online capacity through new warehouse

Work on its Bradford Distribution Centre is now underway, and will utilise existing vacant space within the centre to create a new online warehouse for M&S.com

M&S has announced that work has begun on its Bradford Distribution Centre, which is set to become a second online warehouse for M&S.com in efforts to increase its online capacity. 

The reengineering of the group’s supply chain, including the extension of the Bradford warehouse, is an “important enabler” to M&S’s MS2 division, according to the group. 

Under the MS2 division, the group intends to “set itself up to best digitally serve shoppers in the future”, reflecting the shift to online shopping driven by the pandemic, which saw M&S online sales grow by 34% in the first half of the financial year, and app downloads rise by over 200% in 2020.

M&S first opened the Bradford Distribution Centre in 2010. The site currently delivers both clothing and food to M&S stores in partnership with logistics experts XPO. This new investment will utilise existing vacant space within the centre to create a new online warehouse for M&S.com, supporting the retailer’s Castle Donington online warehouse which opened in 2012.

The investment in Bradford follows a successful trial over Christmas where Bradford’s colleagues manually picked products from the existing automated distribution centre to service online orders. At its peak, the site was dispatching 14,000 items a day. 

The build is now underway with the aim to be operational for Christmas 2021. The team will start with the target of dispatching 35,000 items a day, looking to increase capacity over time. Bradford will be an online warehouse for boxed products and the aim is for it to eventually support around 20% of M&S online orders.

Stephen Langford, director of M&S.com said: “We’re transforming our Clothing business to be more relevant, more often for our 22 million customers – however they choose to shop. 

“Whilst it’s exciting our stores have reopened, growing our online business has never been more important and part of that is a behind the scenes network which means we can serve our customers as efficiently as possible. Building Bradford is a key way we’re setting ourselves up for a more digital future at M&S under the banner of MS2.” 

Alongside investing in its physical space with Bradford and equipment, M&S is reengineering the supply chain through greater use of tech, for example achieving operational efficiencies through the application of Microsoft Power BI and improving ways of working through utilising the communications platform Microsoft Teams. 

Paul Babbs, director of Supply Chain and Logistics said: “We’re reengineering our supply chain to ensure we can deliver our Never the Same Again programme – including increased online capacity. Working closely with XPO we’re investing in Bradford which has been selected for its central UK location, the space available and most importantly because it’s our most automated site which is crucial for an efficient supply chain.” 

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