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M&S faces 'IT problems' at mammoth new distribution centre

Antony Savvas | Aug. 21, 2013
Castle Donington, the company's biggest distribution centre, was only opened in May.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is said to be engulfed in IT supply chain problems at its major new online distribution centre at Castle Donington in Leicestershire, reports Sky News.

M&S plans to ultimately use Castle Donington to fulfil all of its customers' online orders, but that won't be happening anytime soon, according to Sky's sources.

The problems at the fully automated distribution centre have caused some M&S trading directors to "express concerns" about putting their lines through the centre, as they fear they won't make it to shops.

Castle Donington, the company's biggest distribution centre, was only opened in May and is part of the company's plan to save as much as £300 million a year off its operations costs by consolidating the number of distribution centres it uses.

An M&S spokesman told Sky News the company would not comment on "rumour and speculation". They added: "We've said from day one that operations at Castle Donington will build over a long period of time to protect customer service. Nothing has changed and it is early days on-site as we follow the ramp-up plan."

M&S says it is building a "new fast, agile, flexible and reliable supply chain network" that "will create a more efficient M&S and improve availability and customer service".

The process began in 2009 and will continue until 2016. It involves M&S moving from a network of 110 small warehouses for clothing, home and gift products to a small number of large, modern distribution centres.

If there are IT problems at Castle Donington, it is not clear at this stage where they lie.

In 2011, M&S deployed a range of systems from JDA Software, in a bid to improve efficiency and stock level management for its non-food business.

M&S took the Allocation, Demand, Fulfilment and Size Scaling systems from JDA.

The 900,000 sq ft Castle Donington site is fully mechanised with automated storage and retrieval systems which are supported by sophisticated warehouse management systems.

M&S says it has Europe's largest solar wall, a sun-facing wall that absorbs solar energy and releases it to help power light and heating.


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