Shop Direct, the UK’s largest integrated pureplay digital retailer and financial services provider, has announced an agreement to transfer the 215,000 sq ft Raven Mill returns centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester, along with returns activity managed from the site, to Clipper Logistics, a leading provider of value-added logistics solutions and e-fulfilment to the retail sector.
The deal potentially safeguards up to 200 jobs in the local area as well as the Raven Mill site itself, which had been due to close in 2021 following the migration of Shop Direct’s returns activity to a new automated 850,000 sq ft fulfilment and returns centre at East Midlands Gateway near Castle Donington, Leicestershire.
All 403 Shop Direct colleagues based at the Raven Mill site will transfer to Clipper Logistics under TUPE. Clipper Logistics will operate returns on behalf of Shop Direct at the Raven Mill site until this activity migrates to the digital retailer’s new East Midlands fulfilment centre in 2021. Following completion of the migration of Shop Direct’s returns activity, it is Clipper Logistics’ intention to retain up to 200 Raven Mill colleagues for separate ongoing operational activity at the site for its other retail clients.
At least 200 Raven Mill-based colleagues are likely to still be made redundant following migration in 2021. Redundancies are expected to be achieved on a voluntary basis. Clipper Logistics is committed to working closely with the site trade union Usdaw, colleague representatives and colleagues to continue the ongoing consultation.
As part of this five-year agreement, Clipper Logistics will manage some specialist returns and pre-retail activity for Shop Direct from 2021 from its site in Swadlincote, Derbyshire.
A joint taskforce established in April 2018, shortly after it was announced that Shop Direct’s Greater Manchester fulfilment centres in Chadderton (Raven Mill), Shaw and Little Hulton, would begin to close from mid-2020, has been working to improve outcomes for impacted colleagues and communities. The taskforce was established between Shop Direct, Usdaw, Guidant, the Manchester Growth Company, the Department for Work and Pensions, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Midas, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Salford City Council and Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council. Clipper Logistics will join the joint taskforce following the TUPE transfer.
Phil Hackney, group operations director at Shop Direct and co-chair of the joint taskforce, said: “We’re pleased to have come to an agreement with Clipper Logistics that has the potential to safeguard jobs in the area, with Raven Mill likely to operate as a commercial site beyond 2021. We believe it’s a positive move for our colleagues and the community. We’ll work closely with Clipper Logistics, our trade union Usdaw and colleague representatives to ensure the transfer is as smooth as possible.
“Our priority continues to be working in partnership with the joint taskforce to give affected colleagues across all our Greater Manchester fulfilment sites the training, development and other types of support they need to help them prepare for the future.”
Steve Parkin, executive chairman at Clipper Logistics, added: “We are delighted to be working with Shop Direct. It is testament to our unique ability in returns management across fashion, electronics and general merchandise, to be adding one of the UK’s leading pureplay digital retailers to our client list. We are looking forward to ensuring we deliver best-in-class, not only for customers in terms of fulfilment, but also for colleagues.”