M&S to expand online capacity with new automated warehouse

Marks & Spencer has announced that its existing Bradford distribution centre will house a new automated warehouse as part of the retailer’s online expansion.

The adaptation of the Yorkshire-based warehouse, which was first opened in 2010, is part of the company’s plans to permanently improve online capability and marks an important move for its MS2 division.

The division has been set up to improve online experience for M&S customers. It aims to achieve online, data, and digital capabilities that can trade at a pace and compete with pure players, as well as to help it grow from its current position as the UK’s second biggest clothing website.

The retailer’s online sales grew by 34 per cent in the first half of the financial year, while app downloads were up by more than 200 per cent in 2020.

The new warehouse will be the company’s second online site for M&S.com and will create around 300 jobs.

The investment will use existing vacant space within the Bradford warehouse and is to support the retailer’s other online warehouse based in Castle Donington, which opened in 2012.

The new warehouse, which will have an initial target of dispatching 35,000 items a day, is expected to open around Christmas time this year. The site will eventually support around 20 per cent of M&S online orders.

“We’re transforming our clothing business to be more relevant, more often for our 22 million customers – however they choose to shop,” said Stephen Langford, director of M&S.com. “Whilst it’s exciting our stores have reopened, growing our online business has never been more important and part of that is a behind the scenes network which means we can serve our customers as efficiently as possible. Building Bradford is a key way we’re setting ourselves up for a more digital future at M&S under the banner of MS2.”

The company said that alongside investing in the new warehouse, it is revamping its supply chain with greater use of tech like the application of Microsoft Power BI and improving ways of working via Microsoft Teams.

Gavin Williams, managing director, supply chain – UK and Ireland, XPO Logistics, said: “We’re proud to be extending our successful partnership with M&S and look forward to further utilising our e-commerce logistics expertise in Bradford. Automation is essential in today’s supply chain to ensure the flexibility, efficiency and accuracy that e-commerce demands. We’re looking forward to welcoming additional talent into our Bradford team to keep supporting M&S in the UK.”

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