In June 2020, Wincanton was awarded a ‘transformational’ five-year contract with Waitrose to create a Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC, also known as a ‘dark store’) in Greenford, West London. This facility supports the supermarket’s online capability by increasing its grocery home delivery capacity.
The project is ‘transformational’ as it is the first time a third-party logistics provider has collaborated with a grocery retailer to offer this kind of service.
Wincanton started operations at the CFC in March 2021, responding to acceleration in demand for Waitrose & Partners’ online grocery home delivery service. The new site complements existing Waitrose facilities in Coulsdon and Enfield. The three work together to meet the exponential growth in demand across London for home deliveries caused, in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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. They better enable businesses to serve online customers at a large scale or densely populated areas.
Fast-tracking future plans
Waitrose.com selected Wincanton as its supply chain partner in order to fast-track the development of the CFC and respond to continuing demand for online shopping slots. It builds on a 20-year partnership, which sees Wincanton supply wines and spirits to Waitrose shops.
In the space of eight short months, including periods of national lockdown, Wincanton built a 110,000 sq ft CFC to handle inbound and outbound flows for 1.25 million frozen, chilled, fresh and ambient goods every week. The CFC can accommodate 19,500 SKUs and handle 25,000 orders per week. Greenford also has capacity for 150 delivery vans, each of which make an average of 17.3 drops across 210 routes per day.
Laura Burbedge, Waitrose.com Director, said:
"Waitrose.com 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."