Shop Direct announces agreement to transfer returns activity to clipper logistics

Shop Direct, the UK’s largest integrated pureplay digital retailer and financial services provider, has announced an agreement to transfer the 215,000 sq ft Raven Mill returns centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester, along with returns activity managed from the site, to Clipper Logistics, a leading provider of value-added logistics solutions and e-fulfilment to the retail sector.

The deal potentially safeguards up to 200 jobs in the local area as well as the Raven Mill site itself, which had been due to close in 2021 following the migration of Shop Direct’s returns activity to a new automated 850,000 sq ft fulfilment and returns centre at East Midlands Gateway near Castle Donington, Leicestershire.

All 403 Shop Direct colleagues based at the Raven Mill site will transfer to Clipper Logistics under TUPE. Clipper Logistics will operate returns on behalf of Shop Direct at the Raven Mill site until this activity migrates to the digital retailer’s new East Midlands fulfilment centre in 2021. Following completion of the migration of Shop Direct’s returns activity, it is Clipper Logistics’ intention to retain up to 200 Raven Mill colleagues for separate ongoing operational activity at the site for its other retail clients.

At least 200 Raven Mill-based colleagues are likely to still be made redundant following migration in 2021. Redundancies are expected to be achieved on a voluntary basis. Clipper Logistics is committed to working closely with the site trade union Usdaw, colleague representatives and colleagues to continue the ongoing consultation.

As part of this five-year agreement, Clipper Logistics will manage some specialist returns and pre-retail activity for Shop Direct from 2021 from its site in Swadlincote, Derbyshire.

A joint taskforce established in April 2018, shortly after it was announced that Shop Direct’s Greater Manchester fulfilment centres in Chadderton (Raven Mill), Shaw and Little Hulton, would begin to close from mid-2020, has been working to improve outcomes for impacted colleagues and communities. The taskforce was established between Shop Direct, Usdaw, Guidant, the Manchester Growth Company, the Department for Work and Pensions, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Midas, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Salford City Council and Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council. Clipper Logistics will join the joint taskforce following the TUPE transfer.

Phil Hackney, group operations director at Shop Direct and co-chair of the joint taskforce, said: “We’re pleased to have come to an agreement with Clipper Logistics that has the potential to safeguard jobs in the area, with Raven Mill likely to operate as a commercial site beyond 2021. We believe it’s a positive move for our colleagues and the community. We’ll work closely with Clipper Logistics, our trade union Usdaw and colleague representatives to ensure the transfer is as smooth as possible.

“Our priority continues to be working in partnership with the joint taskforce to give affected colleagues across all our Greater Manchester fulfilment sites the training, development and other types of support they need to help them prepare for the future.”

Steve Parkin, executive chairman at Clipper Logistics, added: “We are delighted to be working with Shop Direct. It is testament to our unique ability in returns management across fashion, electronics and general merchandise, to be adding one of the UK’s leading pureplay digital retailers to our client list. We are looking forward to ensuring we deliver best-in-class, not only for customers in terms of fulfilment, but also for colleagues.”

ENDS

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ABOUT SHOP DIRECT

As the UK’s largest integrated pureplay digital retailer and financial services provider, Shop Direct has annual sales of £1.96 billion.

Later this year, we will rebrand to The Very Group as part of plans to bring our name and identity in line with our largest and fastest growing retail brand Very.co.uk.

Our other brands are Littlewoods.com and LittlewoodsIreland.ie. We receive an average of more than 1.4 million website visits every day, with 74% of online sales completed on mobile devices.

We exist to make good things easily accessible to more people. With our multi-category range of famous brands, market-leading technology and data capabilities and unique financial services products offering flexible ways to pay, we’re well placed to deliver on that promise.

We sell more than 1,800 famous brands, including big name labels and our own exclusive brands. We have four million customers and deliver 49 million products every year. Our free click-and-collect service, CollectPlus, delivers to 7,000 stores across the country, increasing ease and convenience for customers.

For more information on Shop Direct, visit www.shopdirect.com or follow us on Twitter at @ShopDirect.

ABOUT CLIPPER LOGISTICS

Founded by Steve Parkin in 1992, Clipper is amongst the leading providers of value-added logistics solutions and e-fulfilment to the retail sector in the United Kingdom, with an expanding business in Germany and employing nearly 5,000 people. The group provides consultancy-led services within the online fashion and general merchandise sectors to its blue-chip client base, which includes Harvey Nichols, ASOS, The John Lewis Partnership, Asda, Supergroup, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. See www.clippergroup.co.uk.

ABOUT RAVEN MILL RETURNS CENTRE

  • 403 colleagues
  • 215,000 sq ft
  • Occupies one converted former mill
  • 2m returns parcels processed per annum
  • Raven Mill was a Great Universal Stores site when the business was acquired by Littlewoods in 2003

ABOUT SHOP DIRECT’S NEW EAST MIDLANDS FULFILMENT CENTRE AND THE CLOSURE OF ITS GREATER MANCHESTER FULFILMENT SITES

In April 2018, Shop Direct announced proposals to upgrade its fulfilment capabilities by creating an automated, 850,000 square foot distribution and returns centre in the East Midlands.

Development of the site at East Midlands Gateway started in May 2018 and the group plans to begin exiting its existing fulfilment sites in Greater Manchester from mid-2020. The new site is expected to be fully operational by peak 2021.

The move will impact 1,177 permanent Shop Direct colleagues and 815 agency colleagues. Redundancies are anticipated as a result of the site closures.

As part of an 18-month project, Shop Direct reviewed its fulfilment sites at Shaw, Little Hulton and Chadderton (Raven Mill) and concluded that limited accessibility, layout and loading restrictions, coupled with a lack of space, mean that these centres won’t meet the group’s future operational ambitions.

The space offered by the new site will mean that Shop Direct can process more orders and use new technology to make the business more responsive, reducing the time it takes to get products to customers.

The site’s position in the East Midlands, adjacent to the M1 and East Midlands Airport, with its own rail freight terminal, will enable the business to increase its cut-off time for next day delivery to midnight from the current 7pm, and to explore the introduction of same-day delivery in the future. Approximately 500 permanent roles will be created at the new site, and this is expected to increase by an additional 200 to 300 agency colleagues during peak periods.

Shop Direct is in consultation with Usdaw, the recognised trade union, and is also consulting with colleague representatives. The group is working closely with affected colleagues to support them.