• M&S is adopting a new single-tier clothing and home logistics network.
  • The UK retail group says the move will allow it to move products from suppliers to stores faster and at lower cost.
  • As a result, M&S will close its Hardwick distribution, near Warrington, endangering some 450 jobs.
The moves are the latest in the M&S five-year transformation programme which will make M&S a faster, more commercial retailer

The moves are the latest in the M&S five-year transformation programme which will make M&S a faster, more commercial retailer

As part of ongoing efforts to transform its business, UK retail group Marks & Spencer is to implement a new single-tier clothing and home logistics network it says will allow it to move products from suppliers to stores faster and at a lower cost.

M&S said that as its distribution centre (DC) in Bradford is now able to handle more capacity, the decision has been taken to close its Hardwick DC near Warrington, putting around 450 jobs at risk. The site currently handles clothing and home products for stores in the North West and Scotland. It will cease operations in September and work will transfer to other sites across the M&S network.

The DC is operated by third-party logistics specialist XPO Logistics with transport operations provided by DHL. Both XPO and DHL have now entered a period of consultation with the circa 450 colleagues who work on site.  

The new single-tier network will allow M&S increase the speed at which products are moved from supplier to store by switching to a smaller network of large DCs, strategically placed across the UK.  

It added the moves are the latest in its five-year transformation programme which will make the group a faster, more commercial retailer.

"Closing Hardwick will help to remove some complexity from our network and speed up our supply chain," explains Gordon Mowat, director of clothing and home supply chain and logistics. "However, it was not a decision we took lightly and it is not in any way a reflection on the hard work and dedication provided by the teams on site. We will do all we can to support our partners through the consultation process."

In addition, M&S has appointed DHL to operate its new South East DC at Welham Green following a competitive tender. The site, which is currently being mechanised and fitted to M&S specifications, will also provide transport operations. It is set to open in 2019 and DHL will recruit around 500 colleagues to work at the site.

"On our new site at Welham Green, DHL is the right partner for us. They delivered the best response to the tender, they have a strong track record at other M&S sites and are best placed in terms of costs and speed of operation to help us realise the benefits of our new DC."

The M&S clothing and home distribution network currently comprises of 18 sites including large DCs in Castle Donington, Bradford and Swindon. The previously announced closure of the M&S distribution centre in Neasden is due to be completed early next year.

The news follows the appointment of a new leadership team last month, tasked with overhauling the firm's clothing and home operations – including the creation of new role to oversee the newly merged womenswear and kidswear teams.

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