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Why Shop Direct Abandoned 1.5M SF In Greater Manchester And Headed To The Midlands

Shop Direct's Chadderton warehouse, now due for closure

Oldham's cotton mills are not everybody's idea of efficient modern warehousing, and Shop Direct — the owner of Very and Littlewoods — is the latest to migrate from one into modern floorspace.

The pure-play online retailer has revealed plans to vacate three Greater Manchester warehouses totalling more than 1.5M SF, and exchange them for a 500K SF modern high-bay warehouse in the East Midlands.

The warehouses to go are the 905K SF former Littlewood’s depot at Shaw, Oldham; the 230K SF former Great Universal mill at Chadderton, Oldham; and a 330K SF unit at Little Hulton, Salford. In all, three old mills and two more recent warehouses will be closed as Shop Direct rethink the supply chain.

As part of an 18-month project, Shop Direct reviewed its fulfilment sites in Greater Manchester and concluded that “limited accessibility, layout and loading restrictions, coupled with a lack of space, mean that these centres won’t meet the group’s future operational ambitions.”

Shop Direct's 905K SF warehouse in Shaw, Oldham

Development of the site at Segro’s 6M SF East Midlands Gateway is due to start in May, and the group plans to begin exiting its existing fulfilment sites in Greater Manchester in mid-2020. The new site is expected to be fully operational by peak 2021. The new site is close to junction 24 of the M1.

The existing warehousing has supported Shop Direct on its journey from a catalogue business to the U.K.’s second-largest pure-play digital retailer, delivering 49 million products to customers annually. Very, Shop Direct’s flagship brand, grew like-for-like revenue by 14.6% last year, on the back of 15.9% growth in 2016 and 17.4% in 2015.