John Lewis is set to open a new 1 million sq ft distribution centre in Milton Keynes as it scrambles to meet a staggering rise in demand for online orders.
The department store is set to create 500 new jobs in the region as it signs an 11-year lease on what will become its second-largest distribution centre.
It is understood that the partnership signed a deal with Tesco for the warehouse, and is not expected to begin operations there until next year.
It comes as John Lewis continues to see a huge shift in demand for its ecommerce services, seeing the percentage of sales made online jump from 40 per cent to 60 per cent during the pandemic.
“This one-of-a-kind distribution centre represents a fantastic opportunity to power the continued growth of Johnlewis.com, ensuring that we can keep pace with customer demand – both for our products and for our wide range of fulfilment and delivery options,”John Lewis Partnership’s executive director Andrew Murphy said.
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“We will use the Fenny Lock site to fulfill customer orders for fashion, small home furnishing items and technology products.
“The proximity to our Magna Park campus will enable us to combine more customer orders, reducing both the number of packages we create by approximately one million per year, and the number of lorries on the road, helping us to meet our target of being net zero carbon by 2035.”
Elsewhere, John Lewis also announced it has signed another three-year lease on a smaller warehouse in Leicester, set to launch later this year.
It marks the latest major shift towards ecommerce for the fashion retailer, as part of its bold and widespread digital transformation strategy.
In June, it announced plans to allow fashion brands to sell via its website directly for the first time.
More than 100 fashion brands will be added to John Lewis’ range over the coming year thanks to the new initiative, which will see its ecommerce website transform into an upmarket fashion marketplace akin to Zalando.
Over the coming six months, John Lewis expects to introduce 40 new brands to its online store including plus-size lingerie brand Oola and menswear brands like Raging Bull Spoke London.
This digital transformation strategy aims to see 60-70 per cent of all its sales made via online channels by 2025.