M&S splashing out £200m on port warehouse

MARKS & Spencer is investing £200m in a distribution centre at a new deep-sea container port east of London to help make its supply chain more efficient, the retailer revealed yesterday.

M&S is spending £1bn over six years to 2015 on logistics, IT and systems, as it seeks to become an international multi-channel retailer.

The firm is replacing more than 100 warehouses that it had across Britain in 2009 with three huge distribution centres.

M&S said that locating the new 900,000 square-foot distribution centre at DP World’s London Gateway port on the Thames near Stanford-Le-Hope would allow it to handle millions of products directly from ships, removing millions of road miles and giving it closer access to key cities.

“London Gateway will help us become more efficient by cutting costs and locating our supply chain closer to our stores and our international markets,” said chief executive Marc Bolland.

M&S said its investment would create about 700 jobs and hundreds of additional workers would be employed in the construction phase.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who attended yesterday’s announcement, said the London Gateway project is “an emblem of ambition”.

Subject to planning permission, M&S will begin construction of the new facility in 2014.

London Gateway is set to open this winter. The deep-sea port can handle up to 3.5m twenty-foot containers per year.