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Case Study: Timberland: a warehouse to serve Europe

The European operation of the footwear and apparel retailer Timberland has developed its logistics by expanding and evolving a distribution centre in Almelo, near Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

The most recent upgrade was in 2018, which saw it increase floorspace by a third from 39,000m² to 52,000m², in order to give the business headroom for projected future growth. At the same time, several integrated hi-tech order-picking systems were rolled out at the low-energy, modern facility.

The project at Almelo was a partnership with Total Logistics, now part of Accenture, and saw the pair adopt and phase-in new systems, including an improved picking system, a replacement horizontal transport system (in other words, conveyor belts) for moving cartons around the warehouse, increased racked storage, new narrow-aisle trucks plus an improved demand system with five replenishment stations and warehouse robotics servicing 13 operator-managed picking stations.

Timberland’s DC runs on warehouse management software called PKMS from the supply chain specialist Manhattan Associates. It is integrated to provide a real-time view of perpetual stock across every fulfilment location in the business, including in-transit, on-order and third party-owned or fulfilled stock.

This latest phase of logistics systems development follows on from Timberland’s work earlier in the decade on internationalising its ecommerce offering across Europe, and refining the online customer experience.

It is a full eight years now since the business was acquired by the US-owned VF Corporation and saw its European HQ move to Switzerland from the UK. This acquisition ushered in a period of virtually non-stop transformation for Timberland, including big IT changes to retire legacy systems and enable a Europe-wide ecommerce capability that embraces language and currency options and much more.

Today, many of Timberland’s systems run on cloud platforms run by third parties such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, which has made the business more scalable and responsive – and prompted the logistics overhaul in an effort to keep up with demand being driven by the company’s enhanced omnichannel offer.

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