Sainsbury's at Prologis RFI DIRFT

Customer Case Studies

In January 2015, we completed a 1 million square foot distribution hub for Sainsbury’s at Prologis RFI DIRFT. Combining a national import centre and long-hold facility, the building has its own 400m intermodal terminal. It is not only one of the largest, but also one of the most complex logistics buildings to be delivered in the UK.

The project began when Sainsbury’s decided to centralise the logistics operations for its general merchandise business. Having assessed the geography of its stores, the company decided on a best-in-class 1 million square foot facility at DIRFT. As Roger Burnley, managing director, General Merchandise, Clothing and Logistics at Sainsbury’s said when the decision was announced:

“The distribution centre at DIRFT is a significant investment for Sainsbury’s. We are always looking at ways to serve our customers better and this depot provides us with a central location to support our growing general merchandise business.”

Intermodal appeal

One of the attractions of DIRFT was its road and rail connectivity. The site is close to both the West Coast Mainline Railway and the M1 motorway.  Sainsbury’s knew that rail could offer significant benefits and as Simon Polmear, Strategic Transport Development Manager said: “Our ambition is to explore the viability of rail freight as a component of our logistics operation.”

Successful collaboration

It is inevitable that a project of this scale will present challenges. But, one of the main reasons we were able to deliver it successfully was because we worked closely with Sainsbury’s through every stage of development.  At the outset, we provided offices for the Sainsbury’s team at our Solihull HQ. This meant that we could work collaboratively to ensure that both the building and its supporting infrastructure were designed for maximum operational efficiency.

Another benefit we could offer was the in-house expertise to manage projects of this size and complexity, together with a tried and tested supply chain. Working together, we resolved problems, innovating when necessary to reach the best solutions.

The project had three main elements: infrastructure, building construction and internal fit-out. We were able to co-ordinate the three main elements of the project seamlessly and all completed on schedule. The facility is now fully operational.

Sainsbury's at Prologis RFI DIRFT