Shop Direct, the UK’s largest integrated pureplay digital retailer and financial services provider, has completed external building works at Skygate, its new 850,000 sq ft* fulfilment centre at East Midlands Gateway near Castle Donington, Leicestershire.
The state-of-the-art facility will bring all aspects of distribution and returns for Shop Direct’s Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com retail brands under one roof for the first time and has significant potential for future expansion. Construction began in May last year and the internal fit out and installation of technology is currently underway ahead of Shop Direct taking possession early 2020.
Recruitment is already underway for a number of technical roles and roles in the management of operations, shifts, teams, stock and inventory, with 500 permanent colleagues to be based at Skygate by March 2021. They will be supported by an additional 200 to 300 agency colleagues during peak periods.
When completed, Skygate will be served by a rail freight terminal at East Midlands Gateway, with close links to the M1 and East Midlands Airport. The central UK location will bring significant customer benefits, including an extension to the cut-off time for next day delivery from 7pm to midnight and the potential for same day delivery in the future. Placing Shop Direct in closer proximity to its imports, carrier partners and customers will also save an estimated one million road miles per year.
Skygate will use the latest automation technology from leading automation solutions provider Knapp, including sortation, item selection, advanced picking and single and multi-order packaging. It will allow products to be processed through the fulfilment centre, from order placement to dispatch, in just 30 minutes. This technology, combined with the consolidation of three sites into one fulfilment and returns centre, will contribute an estimated £25m in efficiency savings per year for Shop Direct from 2021.
Phil Hackney, chief operating officer at Shop Direct, said: “The completion of Skygate’s external shell is a major milestone in the development of our new fulfilment centre and it’s exciting to see the plans we’ve talked about coming to life. The facility will ultimately play a key role in helping us meeting the ever-changing needs of our four million customers and positioning ourselves for ongoing, sustainable growth in the future. Recruitment is moving along at pace, with some colleagues already based at Skygate, and we look forward to welcoming many more in the coming months.”