Sainsbury’s forecasts that demand in the capital for its online groceries service will double over the next eight years, as more people switch to a mixture of shopping online and in stores.
The grocery chain announced the forecast as it opened its purpose built, online fulfilment centre in Bromley-by-Bow. The online fulfilment centre in east London is 185,000sq ft and has the capacity to fulfil 25,000 customer orders per week. The chilled picking area alone is ten times the size of an average Sainsbury’s convenience store.
Once Sainsbury’s colleagues have picked orders from the shelves, they are transferred to a giant automated system, billed as the first of its kind in the UK. The system operates 1.5km of conveyor belts which can carry over 7,000 crates per hour to Sainsbury’s vans. To ensure the fleet of over 160 vans makes deliveries on time, the site has its own fuel pumps and van servicing area. The centre also has a bakery where professional bakers, trained at Sainsbury’s bakery college, will bake hundreds of loaves from scratch.
Nearly 500 staff have been recruited to work at the centre and Sainsbury’s expects to recruit another 430 by 2020.
Clodagh Moriarty, Sainsbury’s director of online, commented: “Operating day and night, this state-of-the-art centre, with its cutting edge technology, will enable us to handle exceptional volumes at high speed. The additional capacity provided by the centre means that, working with our 30 London stores which pick online orders, we’ll be able to keep up with demand for our service in London, which we expect to double over the next eight years.”
Sainsbury’s launched its online grocery business in 1999 and, by 2013, sales had reached £1billion. Since then demand has continued to grow. Last year sales rose by nearly 9% and orders increased by nearly 15%.