Marks & Spencer has officially opened its new 900,000 sq ft distribution centre in Castle Donington, which will be used both as an e-commerce distribution centre and a national distribution centre.
The first customer orders started moving through the new facility last week. When fully operational it will process up to a million items a day.
The site is fully automated and, at 900,000 sq ft and 25 metres high, it is one the biggest centres of its kind in the UK.
Castle Donington is the second giant distribution centre to be opened by M&S as part of its strategy to revamp its network. The firs of the new sites is at Bradford.
The third distribution centre in the new network will be at a port location in the South East and will act both as a regional distribution centre as well as an import facility for products coming into the UK and a DC for goods going to stores overseas.
The process sees Marks & Spencer moving from 110 warehouses for clothing, home and gift products in 2009 to just three by 2016.
M&S plans to ramp up operations at Castle Donington over the course of the next few months, so that it will be employing some 1,200 full time staff plus 300 agency staff in the run-up to Christmas. The site can store 150,000 different products – 16 million individual products in total.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “Castle Donington is one of the most modern, fully automated distribution centres in the UK. As we are recruiting a significant proportion of employees through our Marks & Start Logistics scheme for people with disabilities, this investment in the UK is a unique combination of state-of-the-art technology and a great social working environment.”
The site was built with M&S’ Plan A in mind and features Europe’s largest solar wall – a sun-facing wall that absorbs solar energy and releases it to help heat the building. It is carbon neutral and has been part built using concrete from a former power station. None of the waste from the site has gone to landfill.