Hachette UK today announces its plan to consolidate its distribution operations into a new, world-class distribution centre, to be built in Didcot, Oxfordshire, near its existing Bookpoint distribution centre.
This substantial investment programme includes the replacement of Hachette’s Vista warehouse management and sales order processing systems, with modern, market-leading software solutions from suppliers including SAP and JDA.
The new warehouse will be one of the most technically advanced in the UK, including sophisticated automation of processes. It will enable Hachette Distribution to deliver significant improvements to the already high standard of service that it provides to its publishers and its customers, in a world where next day and same day delivery are expected.
It is planned that building work will begin on the new distribution centre towards the end of 2016 for completion in the second half of 2017.
It is intended that Hachette Distribution and its client publishers will begin a carefully phased transition to the new site in 2018.
The existing Bookpoint warehouse will be retained for bulk storage.
As a consequence, and with great regret, Hachette proposes to close its Littlehampton warehouse and office in 2019.
Chris Emerson, Chief Operating Officer of Hachette UK says:
“Today we have told our colleagues and client publishers of our plan to build a single, state of the art distribution centre in Didcot and that, as a result, we propose to close our Littlehampton Book Services operation in 2019.
“The retail landscape has changed; people buy and read books differently and, as a result, they expect a very different customer experience. We must anticipate customer requirements by transforming the distribution service we provide now and for the future. The major changes and improvements that we plan for our systems and operating processes mean that it is no longer efficient to split our distribution business between two locations, using systems built for another era. Some time ago, we started looking for a suitable site near one or other of our existing locations, Littlehampton and Didcot, on which to build a new distribution centre to accommodate our consolidated business. Unfortunately there was no site suitable for our requirements near Littlehampton but, more fortunately, there were a number of sites in or near Didcot. The new centre will therefore be built on a site that is within one mile of our existing warehouse at Bookpoint.
“We deeply regret that this proposal means that jobs at LBS, and a small number of jobs in Vista IT at Bookpoint, are at risk of redundancy. We will now enter a period of consultation with those potentially affected. While the plans we are announcing today reflect positively a large investment in the provision of world-beating service for our customers and our publishers, for now we are all completely focused on consulting about our proposals with our colleagues at risk of redundancy. Our decision to build in Didcot was to do with finding a good location and is absolutely no reflection on the capabilities of LBS staff, who provide an outstanding service to their publishers and customers.
“The timetable for the project stretches over the next three years: it is intended that building work on the new site will begin in the autumn of 2016 for completion in the second half of 2017. We intend that publishers should move into the new site from LBS and Bookpoint over a carefully phased period of 2 years (during 2018 and 2019) to ensure that we maintain our service levels to client publishers and to customers at all times. It is proposed that, at the end of this process, likely to be in 2019, LBS will close.
“Uppermost in our minds throughout the planning of this process has been our desire to give colleagues as much notice of our plans as possible, so that we can communicate and consult with them thoroughly and openly a long time in advance of the proposed closure of LBS. We are committed to minimising the personal impact of these changes on our affected colleagues to the very best of our ability.”
Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette UK says:
“We are very proud of the distribution service we offer our customers and our client publishers and the plans we are announcing today demonstrate not only our commitment in this area but also our determination to be the very best for decades into the future. What we are planning is designed to be the most efficient, most sophisticated distribution centre in the UK, with world-class systems to provide superb service. There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss with our in-house and client publishers, over the three-year timetable, the scope and scale of this project and what it can bring to them. For now, we are concentrating on consulting with affected colleagues, mostly at Littlehampton Book Services, about what these plans may mean for them personally, and how we will work together to continue to provide our usual excellent service throughout the project. It is too early for any farewells, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues at Littlehampton Book Services and Bookpoint for the superb service they give us all, so often going beyond the call of duty to provide miraculous results. We will be bearing our appreciation closely in mind as we hold our discussions with colleagues.