Building work has been completed on The Co-operative Group’s new £15-million Composite Distribution Centre Birtley in County Durham, which will service Co-operative food stores across the north.
The 280,000 square foot facility will be capable of storing products at a range of temperatures – from frozen to ambient – for distribution to 260 Co-operative food stores across the north. It is expected to become fully operational in April once the final fitting-out and stocking are complete.
The centre will operate with more than 100 trucks, with orders picked at a rate of 500,000 cases per week using voice recognition technology.
More than 550 staff will be employed at the new site, transferring from the group’s existing chilled distribution depot at Blaydon and the current ambient depot in Birtley. This will include drivers, warehouse operators and vehicle maintenance staff, as well as staff working in food retail administration and other parts of the business.
The new building incorporates a number of energy-efficient features, including the harvesting of rainwater to be used for refrigeration, vehicle washing and for flushing toilets. Office lights will be movement triggered and will have a daylight dimming feature which lowers their brightness depending on the level of light during the day.
Tim Ellis, project manager, The Co-operative Food Retail Logistics, said: “We’re delighted to have reached this milestone in the construction of our new regional composite distribution centre at Birtley. It has been a great team effort all round. We are now looking forward to starting operations in mid-April and to ensuring stores continue to give Co-operative customers the high level of product availability and service they expect.”