River Island, a major fashion retailer that has been successfully trading in the UK for over 60 years continues to expand its range, brands and its geographic coverage.
Since the economic downturn, as well as improving sales overall, it has re-launched the Chelsea Girl Fascia, seen a significant increase in its ecomm volumes and a continuing expansion of its overseas franchise and concession base.
The opening of their high-performance Distribution Complex in 2013 has supported and facilitated much of this growth.
Previously the River Island Business was operated from 4 separate sites. Each one handles a different part of the product range or market fulfilment. All of the sites were coming under strain through lack of space. Also, the additional costs of consolidation activity were increasing significantly.
River Island: Logistics Strategy for Future Growth.
So Bisham Consulting worked with River Island and produced the logistics strategic plan for their future growth. The plan identified that as well as accommodating growth, the other key requirements were to improve productivity, reduce the costs per unit, and maintain business continuity. Not just during the project but through to 2018.
The strategy called for a two-site solution to provide resilience and business continuity in the event of any major incident.
The challenge posed to Bisham was that River Island had an unshakeable loyalty and commitment to their existing staff. It was not prepared to relocate one or both of the buildings outside of the immediate catchment area of their existing operations. So, a position that on the face of it, contradicts the requirement for continuing business continuity.
The requirement was to design a complex that would accommodate and handle, fabric, UK Retail volumes, ecomm volumes and Global distribution to overseas franchises and concessions.
Consultancy for Growth.
Bisham Consulting’s answer to this conundrum was innovative but based on proven building and technology solutions. It was to build the two Distribution Centres on the same site but suitably physically separated. In addition, they would be supplied with separate services (Power-Telecoms-Access etc.) thereby establishing resilience and business continuity. The complex consists of two separate high bay buildings on the same site comprising a total footprint of 40,000 square metres.
To satisfy the other requirements for productivity improvements and to avoid the costs associated with consolidating output from both sites the Bisham design included a number of overhead covered bridges between the buildings. These connected the operations in both buildings by means of semi-automated goods conveyors. The MHE design for each site had co-incident multi-level mezzanine structures to facilitate the smooth material flow between the sites.
The requirement to accommodate growth was managed by planning over time to grow into the “cube” of the building. How often is the cube in modern warehouses poorly utilised?. Bisham specified all of the MHE, storage equipment, mezzanine structures and conveyors. The storage and mezzanine installations were designed and built to accept additional levels with minimum operational interference at future dates.
Westfield properties (part of the Lewis group, Parent Company of River Island) managed the procurement of the land and the build project for the sites. This was all done in line with the original Bisham conceptual design.
So Bisham specified the MHE, worked with River Island on the procurement process and managed the installation of all MHE through to commissioning.
Consulting with measurable results.
Throughout the project, the underlying focus on “Continuity” in all of its manifestations remained key to Bisham’s approach. This resulted in:
- Continuity maintained throughout the project and into the future.
- Local staff and skills retention maintained.
- Productivity improvements and unit cost reductions delivered.
- Retail-ecomm-Global and Fabric logistics accommodated in one complex.
- Growth potential within the complex achieved.
- MHE delivered on time and under budget.
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