Waitrose’s giant new national distribution centre at Milton Keynes is on track for a record build time of just 22 weeks.
The 940,0000 sq ft building is being developed by IDI Gazeley at Magna Park Milton Keynes. Work started on site in March and the first steels of the 940,000 sq ft building went up in May. It is expected to be completed by early November – at 22 weeks that would be a record build time for such a large building. Waitrose expects to start operations at the site in June/July next year.
The building has 70 dock levellers and a BREEAM rating of Excellent for its environmental performance.
Waitrose supply chain director David Jones said that the new site is part of Waitrose’s transition from its roots in the South East to major national retail network.
The opening of its DC at Leyland last autumn has made it easier for the retailer to serve stores in the north and it now has a number of stores in Scotland.
Waitrose has grown from 190 stores five years ago to 319 today and the Milton Keynes facility will support its future growth. The site will employ between 1,000 and 1,200 people.
The facility will handle national distribution of ambient goods – a total of some 25,000 different lines.
Ambient goods are currently held in warehouses all around the country. This means that goods destined to be sold in Scotland could be held in a warehouse in Kent.
The existing temperature controlled operation at Brinklow is not affected by the new development.
The NDC will also play a role in the development of Waitrose’s home delivery operations. Jones said it was currently looking at some measure of automation for the site though no decisions have been finalised yet.
The building is next door to the 1.3 million sq ft facility operated by sister company John Lewis. The two retailers already co-operate on online retail. Goods ordered online from John Lewis can be collected from Waitrose stores.