Wincanton: Dark stores will play a huge role in helping supply chains meet demand

Wincanton: Dark stores will play a huge role in helping supply chains meet demand

Waitrose is today opening a new Customer Fulfilment Centre in Greenford, West London. When fully running later this year the centre will deliver 25,000 orders each week, helping to offer five times more online slots each week in London than before the pandemic.

Staff at the centre will pick and pack 1.25 million products a week, delivered in 150 new vans.

The centre is the third Waitrose Customer Fulfilment Centre (also known as a ‘dark store’). Existing sites in Coulsdon and Enfield help to meet high demand in London, while a network of Waitrose shops cover 90% of postcodes across the rest of the UK. But the centre is the first of its kind in that it’s being opened and operated with supply chain partner Wincanton plc which has a 20 year relationship with Waitrose, supplying wines and spirits to shops.

Opening with Wincanton as its supply chain partner also means Waitrose could fast-track the centre and respond to continuing demand for online shopping slots – especially from elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers.

Waitrose OnePoll research from the 2021 Waitrose Food & Drink Report finds that a quarter of UK adults bought food online for the first time last year with over three-quarters of people in the UK now doing at least some of our grocery shopping online, compared to 61% in 2019. And 69% of people who shopped for food online during the pandemic plan to continue doing so.

The centre is opening with FareShare as a partner, meaning surplus food will be put to good use. Waitrose has donated the equivalent of over 4 million meals to FareShare since starting work with them in 2017.

Laura Burbedge, Director commented: “ now accounts for a fifth of our total business, compared to six percent a year ago. But despite this huge growth we know there are still more people who would like to shop online with us – so this new centre is a significant step in our future plans.”

James Wroath, Wincanton CEO: “As the first supply chain partner to create a dark store for grocery home deliveries in the UK, this is an exciting growth opportunity for Wincanton. We look forward to providing customers in London with the highest levels of service. Dark stores will play a huge role in helping supply chains adapt to meet a new set of expectations as more retail purchases are made online and they will better enable businesses to serve customers, at scale.”

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