Ahead of the festive season, Marks & Spencer is increasing capacity at its online distribution centre at Castle Donington, as the retailer gets set to deliver the most digital Christmas yet.
Preparations for Christmas include increasing staff in the distribution team by 30% and adding contactless click and collect service to 16 stores.
As part of its Never the Same Again programme, M&S is turbocharging growth on M&S.com, reflecting the accelerated shift to online shopping seen during 2020’s lockdown.
In preparation, M&S is building capacity at its Leicestershire-based distribution site in three ways: investment in people power, introducing new technology and adding extra, more efficient space.
Investment in people power
Since July, M&S has recruited 400 new permanent colleagues, and over 500 fixed term colleagues will join for the Christmas period. This means M&S’s distribution centre will be run by a team of 4,000 over Christmas, an increase of over 30% on the 3,000 colleagues who supported the site in 2019.
The Castle Donington site has been adapted with robust hygiene and social distancing measures in place, including door closing devices, increased cleaning schedules and perspex screens between workstations.
Introducing new technology
Ahead of this Christmas, supporting M&S’s staff are two new “Autobagger” machines. These new machines can each pack 2,000 items every hour and are powered by 100% renewable energy.
Adding extra, more efficient space
Last year M&S completed the build of its new 245k sq ft mezzanine floor at Castle Donington and it is fully operational for Christmas 2020. Utilising updated picking and packing IT logic, the routes colleagues will follow are more efficient, meaning they can pick 15% more product but walk the same distance.
Following a successful trial at four stores, M&S is also extending its new contactless Click & Collect service to a further twelve stores including Hedge End, Epsom and York Vangarde.
Paul Burns, M&S’s Clothing & Home Head of Logistics, commented: “We’re set up to ensure our colleagues can safely help our customers shop online with confidence this Christmas – from great new team members to investing in our tech.”