Ocado to close warehouse, putting 2,300 jobs at risk

Ocado has revealed plans to shut down its oldest distribution centre as it focuses on robotic warehouses. The move is expected to impact 2,300 roles.

Ocado will be ceasing operations at its Hatfield Customer Fulfilment Centre, which accounts for about 20% of its 400k customer orders each week.

The orders will be moved to one of Ocado’s high-productivity, next-generation facilities around the UK, such as those scheduled to open in Luton later this year “to take advantage of the continued channel shift to online”.

The Hatfield centre will be closed in line with the opening of the Luton warehouse. Its current 2,300 employees are  undergoing a consultation process, with the aim to “redeploy as many people as possible to other sites”.

Although Ocado called the centre “a core test bed for the Ocado operating model”, the firm nevertheless pointed out that it now prioritises new innovations, enabling “huge leaps forward in both CFC productivity and customer experience”.

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Its latest generation of robotic CFCs are achieving well over 200 units picked per labour hour (UPH) within the facility, compared to UPH of around 150 for its first generation CFC in Hatfield.

Ocado does not expect the move to negatively impact its financial results for 2023.

Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado Group and Chairman of Ocado Retail said : “As the online grocery channel grows, our new, enhanced fulfilment centres and technologies will drive a step change in customer experience and efficiency.

“With this capacity coming online, now is the right time for us to halt operations at our oldest facility at Hatfield and consider our future options for the site. Ocado.com customers will continue to enjoy the same outstanding standard of service throughout the region, which will further improve as the benefits of our new technologies are deployed across the network.

“We have many brilliant Hatfield-based colleagues who have been with us for a long time and are a big part of our journey. We want to keep as much of this talent and experience within the business as possible and expect to retain a large proportion of colleagues impacted by these changes, either in our new Luton CFC or across our wider UK network.

“We will be doing everything we can to support those affected through the consultation.”



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