British retailer Marks & Spencer has announced plans to increase its online capacity by building a new automated online warehouse in its existing distribution centre in Bradford, northern England.
M&S said the expansion would create 300 new jobs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend towards more digital shopping, with M&S's online sales growing 34% in the first half of its 2020-21 year.
The Bradford site currently delivers both clothing and food to M&S stores.
The new investment will utilise existing vacant space within the centre to create a new online warehouse for M&S.com.
The expansion means that by Christmas 2021 M&S will serve online customers from its Castle Donington warehouse in central England, from Bradford and through its stores which act as micro-fulfilment centres.
‘More Digital Future’
Stephen Langford, director of M&S.com, said, “While 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.”
The decision to invest in the new warehouse follows a successful trial over Christmas, where employees at the Bradford warehouse manually picked products to fulfil online orders.
Bradford was selected for this extension due to its location, its excess space and as it is M&S’s most automated distribution centre, with a great engineering team already on site, the company added.
M&S opened the Bradford Distribution Centre in 2010. It is a carbon-neutral building which achieved BREEAM ‘Excellent’ certification – the leading environmental assessment method for buildings.
News by Reuters, additional reporting by ESM. For more Supply Chain stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.