John Lewis will close its Stevenage distribution centre next year after it opens a new £45 million centre in Milton Keynes.
John Lewis had previously hoped to maintain the Stevenage centre with a reduced workforce after the Magna Park centre opens in Milton Keynes in May this year.
However, John Lewis has told staff that it will close the 300,000 sq ft Stevenage centre next year. All 319 staff will be offered jobs at the Milton Keynes centre, which is around 30 miles away.
John Lewis distribution director Dino Rocos said that a mixture of factors meant the closure was the best overall route forward. “When we announced the new centre a couple of years ago we said there would be some impact on the Stevenage centre. However, since then there have been developments in the supply chain and more efficiency in our way of working,” he said. “Also, the economic slowdown will impact on the pace of our plans to open more stores, and we do not want to create capacity that isn’t need.”
“We have to balance the expectation of customers with the commercial viability of the distribution centres, and support our partners [staff], and this is the best solution,” said Rocos.
The new 650,000 sq ft centre will support all of John Lewis’ operations. Rocos said it would improve availability of product as well as support the John Lewis’ growing home shopping business.
The Magna Park distribution centre will also include eco-friendly features such as a rainwater harvesting system.
Rocos added: “We very much hope that Stevenage Partners, who have played a huge role in driving forward service levels to our shops and have all been very supportive since the announcement of Magna Park in 2006, are able to take up the opportunity to transfer to the new distribution centre.”