Co-op opens £16m pharma DC

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The Co-operative has opened a £16m automated distribution centre to serve its Pharmacy’s 800 branches.

The DC at Meir Park in Stoke on Trent, will supply fast-moving prescription medicines and OTC products, with each branch receiving a delivery daily.

Peter Marks, Co-operative Group chief executive and Rory Delap, midfielder for Stoke City football club, performed the opening ceremony.

The warehouse gives The Co-operative Pharmacy greater control over own-brand ranges and the opportunity to hold and distribute additional seasonal lines as well as offering a degree of protection against market shortages.
Peter Batty, head of supply chain, said: “We have the ability to consolidate orders and offer uniformed products in all stores.  In addition, we are now in a position where we can serve all of our branches with the same process system and have the capacity to expand in the future.” 

75 per cent of the products are dispensed via automated equipment into packing totes, and the remaining 25 per cent of products are manually picked, using radio frequency technology in four picking sections.

The picking totes are lidded, sealed and palletised by automated robot arms and despatched.  The facility has the capacity to fulfil 160,000 order lines, distributing 420,000 units in a day.

John Nuttall, managing director of the Co-operative Pharmacy said: “The NDC Meir Park warehouse is Europe’s most advanced distribution facility in this sector and represents our continued commitment to developing our healthcare business. 

“It will set new standards both in terms of efficiency and in building relationships with EU suppliers to enhance our ability to gain access to difficult to source lines.”

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