Ocado Retail, the joint venture with M&S, is to close its 1.2 million ft² customer fulfilment centre (CFC) in Hatfield to coincide with the opening of its new next generation CFC in Luton later this year.
The Hatfield Customer Fulfilment Centre known as CFC1 is the oldest site in the Ocado network. It was acquired as a pre-let from developer Arlington (later bought out by Goodman) in 2001. The original building totalled some 295,000 ft² and over the years has been extended and upgraded extensively, employing at peak some 2,300 staff.
Ocado Retail said: “Under these proposals, we do not expect any change to the volume of orders fulfilled. Customer orders which are currently fulfilled in Hatfield, c.20% of Ocado.com’s 400,000 orders per week, will be moved to the company’s high-productivity, next-generation facilities around the UK.
“This will include the nearby Luton CFC which is scheduled to open later this year to take advantage of the continued channel shift to online.”
There are currently around 2,300 employees based in Hatfield, and Ocado has now commenced a consultation process with colleagues on these proposals. Ocado’s priority and focus will be to redeploy as many people as possible to other sites, primarily to the soon-to-be-opened Luton CFC.
The Hatfield CFC remains a foundation stone in the Ocado story, as the company’s first fulfilment centre and a core test bed for the Ocado operating model, now deployed worldwide with Ocado Group’s retail partners.
Tim Steiner, Chief Executive of Ocado Group and Chairman of Ocado Retail said: “As the online grocery channel grows, our new, enhanced fulfilment centres and technologies will drive a step change in customer experience and efficiency.
“With this capacity coming online, now is the right time for us to halt operations at our oldest facility at Hatfield and consider our future options for the site..
“We have many brilliant Hatfield-based colleagues who have been with us for a long time and are a big part of our journey. We want to keep as much of this talent and experience within the business as possible and expect to retain a large proportion of colleagues impacted by these changes, either in our new Luton CFC or across our wider UK network.”
Ocado secured its Luton CFC from Panattoni in 2021. The 346,132ft² speculatively developed Luton346 warehouse at Panattoni Park Luton was let on a 20-year lease at a rent believed to be just shy of the £9.75 per ft² quoting rent.
The state-of-the-art warehouse is positioned directly at Junction 11 of the M1 motorway and benefits from 15m clear internal height, 50kn/m² floor loading, 15% roof lights, a 2.5MVA power supply, 38 dock and eight level access loading doors, 43 HGV parking spaces, 319 car parking spaces, loading on two elevations and well specified two-storey offices totalling approx 12,739 ft².
Joint letting agents were Adroit Real Estate, M1 Agency and Savills.