The Next Group PLC has grown into a successful UK based retailer offering Exciting, beautifully designed, excellent quality clothing and homeware through 480 stores in the UK and Eire. In addition, its Next Directory mail order catalogue and online shopping business allows customers to buy anything from the latest fashions to homeware at the click of a button.
The Home division has continued to develop over the years incorporating a number of new product areas bringing further demands and growth to its supply chain. This business growth called for an investment in a new distribution centre to store and pick these goods. The existing Home warehouse would continue to deliver the furniture and 2 man delivery business, whilst the new distribution centre would handle items that could easily be palletised.
Savoye was selected as Next's logistics solutions partner for the site near Rotherham,. The new centralized distribution site needed to accommodate the vast range of different sized and shaped products that forms Next's homeware product range. Therefore, Next required a flexible solution that would manage the whole process of goods in, storage and distribution of items into and from the facility. The central element of Next's brief to Savoye was to ensure the solution provided flexibility for the forecast business growth and the wide range of product whilst offering improved efficiency within the warehouse operation.
Following the period of evaluation and simulation a number of options were investigated. It was quickly established that using traditional crane systems within the new warehouse would not offer the flexibility or return on investment required by Next. Due to the size and function of the warehouse, the number of cranes that would be necessary to manage the facility efficiently would be financially unviable. It was therefore agreed that Savoye's Magmatic pallet storage system would offer the flexibility required by Next with the additional provision for future growth.
In practice, the solution installed at the Next site utilises a combination of Savoye's Magmatic and Levmatic systems. Magmatic is Savoye's bulk storage picking tool, consisting of totally automatic radio controlled battery driven independent vehicles (known as VMs) which are able to access any pallet in the warehouse. Levmatic is a simple and reliable lift structure, which moves the Magmatic vehicles (with or without a pallet) from one level to another. The advantage of this technology is that it allows Next to scale its warehousing in line with demand.
The installation supplied by Savoye comprised the racking for the warehouse including the storage and order fulfilment areas, 14 Magmatic vehicles and 6 Levmatic lifts, a 500m pallet conveying system and the IT management system required to operate and manage pallets delivery in the warehouse. The warehouse was designed with a capacity for 124,000 pallets The complete warehousing solution was successfully completed in March 2008, exactly on schedule and within budget. Importantly, Savoye has continued to maintain the ongoing working partnership with the retailer. Eighteen months on from the opening, targets are being maintained and the operational efficiencies are also being enhanced. Forming a close business partnership with Next has allowed Savoye to offer greater value via a more consultative role offering informed and targeted advice on system operation and maintenance in the longer-term.