Wonder has invested £8m in a state-of-the-art automated warehouse robotic system and distribution centre (DC) reconfiguration, as part of its ongoing national and international growth strategy.
The Milton Keynes-headquartered global designer, manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler and retailer of party products has built the system within its existing 100,000 sq ft DC.
The group, which rebranded from Amscan International last November, has deployed robots able to automatically pick around 35,000 SKUs. The investment will further enable Wonder to achieve its objective of becoming a £500m turnover business by 2026.
Due to the investment, all brands within the Wonder family – including Amscan, Ginger Ray and Party Delights – and all B2B and B2C sales channels will be distributed from the Milton Keynes facility by the middle of 2023. The consolidation is focused on warehousing and distribution with all existing commercial offices remaining in their current locations.
The investment will enable increased stock availability within one central location; faster order turnaround time for all customer channels; greater capacity to handle a larger number of customer orders; and extended next day delivery cut-off to 21:00 for B2C customers.
The AutoStore system, installed by Element Logic, is regarded as the leading warehouse automation system in the industry.
Wonder chief executive, Joe Hennigan, said: “Our investment in the latest warehouse technologies provides us with the infrastructure for further sustainable profitable growth. This is a significant investment and is another statement of intent regarding the extent of our ambition and plans for future expansion.
“World class customer service and experience is one of our key objectives and this investment will increase both our efficiency and speed of service to customers.
“It was a complex project which forms an important element of our ongoing business transformation, and our distribution and logistics team have been outstanding in scoping and managing this investment.
“Our customers are already experiencing the benefits it delivers and we look forward to further evolving our use of the system as we continue to implement our plans to achieve a £500m turnover by 2026.”
The AutoStore system contains a three-dimensional aluminium grid structure with self-supporting tote bins that are transferred to pick stations by independently operating robots, providing swift and accurate movement of orders.
Wonder’s system is 145 ft wide and 100 ft deep and holds 39,500 product containing totes in total. The company has placed 30,000 SKUs in the automated system and has acquired new conveyors to further enhance the DC’s efficiencies. An additional 2,500 oversized or fast-moving SKUs are being picked and packed separately.
In addition, a new 13,500 sq ft mezzanine floor has been built in the DC. This provides facilities for the company’s value-added services and supports the significant growth demands for customised and personalised products.
The AutoStore investment and associated DC consolidation will also enable Wonder to reduce the annual road usage by its logistics vehicles of 200,000 miles per year as it removes the need to transport stock between warehouses in the UK.
As part of the overall investment, the business has installed sensor-based LED lights in the DC to save energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint. The reduced road usage and lighting initiatives both link directly to the delivery of Wonder’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy.