The Co-operative Pharmacy launches advanced distribution facility

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The Co-operative Pharmacy has demonstrated its commitment to innovation with the launch of its 16 million distribution facility in Stoke on Trent.

Peter Marks, Co-operative Group Chief Executive, and Rory Delap, midfielder for Premier League team Stoke City FC, officially opened the facility. The purpose built, highly automated, 190,000sq ft distribution centre will serve all of the Co-operative Pharmacys 800 branches and will fulfil demand for the fastest moving, prescription medicines and OTC products, with each branch receiving a delivery daily.

75% of the products are dispensed via completely automated equipment into packing totes, and the remaining 25% of products are manually picked, using radio frequency technology in 4 picking sections. The picking totes are lidded, sealed and palletised by fully automated robot arms and finally despatched.  The facility has the capacity to fulfil 160,000 orderlines, distributing 420,000 units in a day, which will result in improving product availability and optimising service levels in branches. 

The new facility will greatly improve the efficiency of our business, explains Peter Batty, Head of Supply Chain.  We have the ability to consolidate orders and offer uniformed products in all stores.  In addition, we are now in a position where we can serve all of our branches with the same process system and have the capacity to expand in the future. 

The warehouse gives The Co-operative Pharmacy greater control over own brand ranges and the opportunity to hold and distribute additional seasonal lines as well as offering a degree of protection against market shortages.

John Nuttall, Managing Director Co-operative Pharmacy comments, The NDC Meir Park warehouse is Europes most advanced distribution facility in this sector and represents our continued commitment to developing our healthcare business.  It will set new standards both in terms of efficiency and in building relationships with EU suppliers to enhance our ability to gain access to difficult to source lines.

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