Heinz will be looking for other ambient food manufacturers to take up the spare capacity released at its highly automated national distribution centre (NDC) at Wigan as it progressively reduces the £5-6m inventory on site through more efficient supply chain procedures.
The NDC is operated by logistics partner Wincanton, which also handles subsequent distribution from the site.
The 32,500m2 site is one of the largest of its type in Europe with storage capacity for 78,000 pallets. It is situated on 32 acre s next to Heinz's huge Kitt Green manufacturing plant.
Average weekly throughput of Heinz's range of foods, which include soups, beans and sauces and John West products, is 1.6m cases or 11,500 pallets. Some 400,000 cases are picked each week, of which around 70% is done automatically.
According to the NDC's acting general manager Chris Drake, having centralised its national distribution, Heinz's strategy is now to look at ways of releasing capital by reducing the stock it holds on site and raising the site's flexibility of operation (see feature next month).