John Lewis Magna Park extension open for business

UK department store chain John Lewis has opened two new national distribution centres at its Magna Park campus in Milton Keynes as it continues to put the infrastructure in place to meet the demands of modern retailing.

The new facilities – Magna Park 2 and Magna Park 3 – have been developed to help John Lewis fulfil orders more quickly and efficiently, with specialist staff training facilities also included within the site.

A total of £150 million was invested in the Magna Park site to help speed up replenishment to branches and meet the needs of customers who are increasingly demanding speedy and convenient delivery. The new investment forms part of a wider £250 million spend on John Lewis's distribution sites and part of five-year £500 million investment plan covering online systems and the entire distribution network.

Dino Rocos, operations director at John Lewis, commented: "These new state-of-the-art-facilities are the latest piece in the John Lewis distribution jigsaw.

"Our customers expect John Lewis customer experience, not just in our shops, but at every stage of their purchase. This service-led distribution centre will ensure our partners deliver the John Lewis magic direct to our customers' homes."

Magna Park 3 houses a specialist training centre to help develop the skills of John Lewis partners so they can deliver and install customer products from wall-mounted televisions and lighting to washing machines and flat-packed furniture. The building also acts as the national hub of the 'two-man' delivery offering, which is used for larger items such as sofas and white goods.

The retailer says centralising this service simplifies the whole process, allowing customers to receive orders faster than before by supporting next-day deliveries.

And for the first time, John Lewis's Magna Park 2 campus will combine online orders for hanging and flat fashion and non-fashion items in one parcel, such as a dress and handbag, a suit and an iPad, or a jacket and moisturiser. A six-level automated hanging system at the site is capable of sorting and carrying 1.6 million garments at any one time and will be responsible for the fulfilment of circa 225,000 different products.

Commenting further on the new facilities, Rocos added: "Not only will this also help customers receive their orders quicker and in fewer parcels, but fewer driving miles and less packaging will help reduce our operational emissions and waste.

"Our distribution operations are at the heart of our business and these advanced facilities enable us to adapt to the ever-evolving retail market. Customers want quick and convenient deliveries and fast replenishment of our shops, this investment puts us in a strong position for the years to come."

In full-year results released in March, John Lewis detailed how it combines its 46 shops and growing online operation to serve its customers.

For the 52 weeks ending 30 January, shops contributed 67% of sales while online represented 33%. Online sales increased by 17.3%, and while sales in shops were down 1%, John Lewis said their role in the "omnichannel journey is demonstrated by the fact that more than three-quarters of our customers made a purchase from one of our shops, and online sales increase in catchment where we open a new shop".

Over the course of the year, click & collect orders grew by 11% and accounted for 53% of online orders, while sales through mobile devices increased by 34% and smartphones by 86%.