New M&S sign in Bluewater shopping centre

Marks & Spencer has called time on its Neasden, north London DC. However, the high street retailer has said it will open a 495,000ft² clothing and home DC in Welham Green, Hertfordshire, early next year.

The plans form part of the company’s five-year transformation programme, announced in November, which aim to modernise the business.

This will see M&S continue its journey towards a single-tier, or direct supply model, for its clothing and home distribution network. This will see multiple smaller sites replaced with larger facilities.

The under-threat Neasden site, which is operated by XPO Logistics with DHL Supply Chain contracted to handle the transport, will see its work transferred to other M&S locations.

Both logistics firms have entered into a period of consultation with the 380 affected employees.

A spokeswoman for DHL Supply Chain told MT: “Following a strategic review, M&S proposes to close its Neasden facility where DHL currently manages the transport operation. Affected staff have been informed of the situation and will shortly enter into consultation with the company and union representatives to discuss its implications.

“Both DHL and M&S stress that the proposed changes are based on commercial reasons and in no way reflect on the performance of the Neasden operation. “

An XPO Logistics spokesman said: "Following a review of their operations, our customer proposes to withdraw its operations from the Neasden warehouse.

"We have entered into a consultation period with colleagues, the trade union and elected employee representatives to finalise the plans. We will work to support employees through this time.”

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The new, mechanised M&S clothing and home Hertfordshire DC will be created on a former Tesco site and operated by a yet-unannounced 3PL.

It will employ more than 500 people and serve 150 stores across the South East.

Gordon Mowat, director of clothing & home supply chain & logistics, said: “M&S is changing and we are transforming our stores and supply chain to better serve our customers. “

He said the new Welham site will deliver better service and availability for customers, has strong transport links, and enables M&S to become a “faster, more agile, lower cost retailer”.

“The decision to move operations from Neasden to other sites within our network is not one we have taken lightly, however it’s an important part of our transformation,” Mowat added.

It will be fitted out and tested during 2018 and is expected to start operations early next year. The site will incorporate 27,000ft² of office space.

The M&S network currently comprises of 19 DCs and warehouses, including NDCs in Swindon, Castle Donington and Bradford.

In 2013, M&S had planned a fourth NDC in London Gateway, but dropped plans the following year.