John Lewis scoops logistics award for flagship distribution centre

Munnelly (centre) receives the award from (l) Peter Hendy, CILT President, and (r) Howard Wigham, vice president of category sponsor, CHEP UK & Ireland

Munnelly (centre) receives the award from (l) Peter Hendy, CILT President, and (r) Howard Wigham, vice president of category sponsor, CHEP UK & Ireland

John Lewis Partnership has won an award in recognition of its use of technology at its flagship national distribution centre in Milton Keynes.

John Lewis received the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport’s (CILT) Annual Award for Excellence 2011 in the category of Materials Handling Equipment and Technology.

The technology was provided by Knapp, a leading solution supplier in logistics automation and warehouse software. 

The award was presented to John Munnelly, senior project manager (distribution) for John Lewis, at a gala awards dinner held recently at a top London hotel.

The award recognises John Lewis’ overhaul of its distribution systems, undertaken to maintain the company’s competitive edge and create a platform on which to grow the firm’s e-commerce business. 

Munnelly said: “We are very proud to have won this award, which justly recognises a fantastic effort by a great team. Our distribution operations have been optimised through excellent co-operation with our suppliers, including Knapp. 

“Our journey is not over yet as the system is still evolving, but we are very confident in its ability to adapt to our changing business needs.”

In 2009, John Lewis invested in a 750,000sq ft, state-of-the-art national distribution centre (NDC) at Magna Park. This housed a £28m automated warehouse solution from Knapp, featuring over 12km of conveyors and which John Lewis has continued to develop to meet the needs of its expanding multi-channel business.

Ninety five per cent of products from the NDC arrive at John Lewis’ 29 department stores and six John Lewis At Home stores as shelf-ready, single products, organised by department. 

As each individual store is laid out differently, these store-friendly deliveries are no mean feat, said Knapp. Using pick-to-light technology, its systems achieve pick rates of about 750 items per hour and picking accuracy of 99.7%, it said.

David James, managing director of Knapp UK, said: “We are absolutely delighted the continuing trading success of John Lewis Partnership has vindicated its ambitious investment at Magna Park, and the vision and sheer hard work of the company’s supply chain team have been recognised publicly with this prestigious award. “With John Lewis now forecasting £1bn of direct-to-customer sales for the year 2012-13 automation will undoubtedly continue to feature strongly in the company’s distribution strategy.”