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John Lewis expands online distribution capacity

John Lewis is once more testing new ways of selling via stores. Image courtesy of John Lewis

John Lewis continues to expand its distribution capacity in response to growing online demand. Some 60% of the department store’s sales are now made online – up from 40% before the pandemic.

Clipper Logistics confirmed today that the department store had signed a contract to expand the ecommerce and store replenishment services that it already supplies. 

The deal, signed for an initial three years, will mean the creation of 200 new jobs and provide 317,000 sq ft of warehousing space at Bardon, near Leicester, in an operation set to go live later this month. Clipper first put this capacity in place for John Lewis in the run up to last year’s peak Christmas trading, and the site is set to go live later this month. 

Clipper already provides John Lewis with ecommerce returns management, forward orders for furniture and pre-retail operations for clothing suppliers.Its Clicklink joint venture provides click and collect services for John Lewis ecommerce customer orders to Waitrose and Co-op stores nationwide.

Mark Robinson, supply chain director at John Lewis, says: “John Lewis are pleased to extend our long-standing relationship of over 20 years with Clipper who continue to have an excellent reputation for delivering rapid and effective logistics solutions.”

Steve Parkin, executive chairman of Clipper Logistics, says: “We are delighted to extend our relationship with John Lewis and remain proud to support their ecommerce and store replenishment operations.”

John Lewis, which is ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research, is investing £50m in its website and the John Lewis app this year, adding virtual services and events. Over the course of its five-year strategy it will invest a further £100m+ in its online growth. 

The news comes days after the John Lewis Partnership said it had leased a 1m sq ft distribution centre in Milton Keynes from Tesco for 11 years. That site is expected to create 500 new jobs over the next two years. It also promises to give the retailer an ability to combine customer orders, and so reduce the number of packages it handles by about a million a year – cutting lorry journeys and helping it to meet its net zero carbon target by 2035. 

The warehouse will be John Lewis’ second largest distribution centre, after the 2m sq ft campus four miles away at Magna Park, Milton Keynes. Andrew Murphy, partner and executive director of operations for the John Lewis Partnership said at the time: “This one-of-a-kind distribution centre represents a fantastic opportunity to power the continued growth of, ensuring that we can keep pace with customer demand – both for our products and for our wide range of fulfilment and delivery options.

“We will invest in the site’s automation capability to support future growth and, over the next two years, we will recruit 500 new partners to work at the distribution centre, which we plan to start operating during summer 2022.” The site is set to be used to fulfil fashion, small home furnishing and technology orders. 

John Lewis now has uses ten distribution sites across the UK where online and shop orders are fulfilled.

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