Boots has opened a 460,000 sq ft multi-channel service centre, after a £50 million investment, to house its online and international businesses as well as its Christmas gift ranges.
The service centre at Burton upon Trent has streamlined activity, and houses operations that previously spanned three separate warehouses, but the site represents increasing investment in the UK. At the official opening of the site, Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots, said: “This investment illustrates our long-lasting commitment to the East Midlands area and more broadly to the UK market, which I believe still has good potential for further growth.”
Goods covering 25,000 product lines are stored in the automation system or racking, which would cover about eight km end to end. The refurbishment has also installed an additional 72,612 sq ft of space by adding two mezzanine floors. It also uses a automated system by Knapp.
The site uses 24 Linde reach trucks to access some 43,000 pallet spaces, up to 11m high. A further 15 shorter reach trucks can access up to eight metres, and 20 low level order pickers are used in Christmas for picking which can pull two pallets at a time. Four Linde VNA trucks that reach 11 metres are used for put away and picking within Boots International.
Online orders are processed with Knapp’s automated order storage and retrieval system, and manual pick to light terminals. This has reduced the time to process orders by 65 per cent compared to the previous manual operation.
The automation has also reduced picking and packing activity by 81 per cent, which means more resources, can be devoted to customer care and value added services, such as gift wrapping and quality checking 20 per cent of orders.
60 per cent of orders are for home delivery, and 40 per cent are delivered to stores for customer collection.
The international business prepares orders for Boots stores and resellers in countries such as Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Kuwait, Thailand and the USA. Pallets must be configured according to each country’s differing specifications. It is the firm’s smallest business unit, but has seen the biggest growth, in double digits last year.
The Christmas gifts span some 2,500 product lines mainly sourced from the far East. Storage ramps up from the summer on to the Christmas peak.
The Burton service centre processes about 900,000 single orders per day when at maximum capacity. At peak it will employ around 1,000 people.
The site has reduced its use of cardboard in packaging by over a third, by working in collaboration with WRAP, the UK Waste and Resource Action Programme.