Morrisons has opened the doors of its new regional distribution centre in Bridgwater, which is being operated by DHL, following a £90 million investment.
Service from the 767,500 sq ft facility will be scaled up over the next few months before becoming fully operational in the new year.
Once at capacity it will deliver goods to 65 stores in the South West and Wales, consolidating the service of four distribution centres currently in use.
The distribution centre comprises ambient, chilled, frozen and bread warehouses, the Resource Recovery Unit, the Vehicle Maintenance Unit, as well as a car park.
Bob Tanners, operations director at DHL Supply Chain, said: “Consolidating Morrisons’ South West distribution onto a single site has helped reduce the number of journeys we need to make and should substantially reduce carbon emissions in the future.”
When fully operational some 1.8m cases will be moved through the total site per week, including 1.4m cases in ambient and 80,000 cases in the bread warehouse. During the Christmas period this will increase to a total of 2.5m
The outside of the building, which consists of horizontal strips in various shades of green, has been designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape and replicate the Willow Man, a local piece of art.
The facility sits on a site more than a mile long, and offers a number of environmental benefits. It is aiming for an “Excellent” BREEAM rating.
A total of 5,000 sq m of solar panelling has been included on the warehouse and goods-in roofs, which is also used to heat the water in the showers. There is rain water harvesting for toilets and vehicle washing.
Inside the distribution centre there is responsive lighting which reacts to movement and turns itself off when no-one is in the area. Plus, there is LED lighting and ten to 15 per cent natural light in most rooms to minimise the need for artificial lighting.
Additionally, ammonia is used in the frozen and chilled stores rather than Hydrofluorocarbons, which damage the ozone layer.
Morrisons will use 220 trailers and 100 tractor units at the site, including a number of double-deck trailers.
Once fully operational, the centre will employ a total of 1,000 people, 750 of which will be new jobs.
Of the jobs that have been offered so far, 65 per cent have been given to workers in the local area.
Morrisons, DHL, Sedgemoor Council and Bridgwater College has jointly provided a pre-employment training programme, which was designed to give out of work people the skills needed to work in a Morrisons distribution centre.
So far, 193 people have completed the training, 74 of which have been interviewed and of those 24 have been offered jobs. The remaining 119 are still waiting to be interviewed.